I call this quick, because it only took 24 hours in total. I was impatient because this is the first use of my brand new AMNPS for my MES40. :D Also, it's springtime, so the temps at night are perfect for cold smoking!
Unfortunately I didn't do a lot of photos this time, next time I'll do better.
Start the clock and let's begin!
9am: I hit the local farmer's market where there's a small independent fish monger that sold me some frozen hook and line caught coho salmon (~1.5lb fillet) from British Columbia. (It's a good sign when the guy that caught it is a personal friend of the monger) Fyi: Coho salmon doesn't have a huge amount of oil/fat in it (more is considered better for cold smoking as it holds the smoke flavour/juices), but it came out fine for me as the fish itself was flavourful.
A small note about buying flash frozen - it's actually fine for cold smoking as the freezing process kills off parasites that might exist and survive. Just run the bag under cold water to defrost before starting.
Once defrosted, you've got to brine the beast for a while! The recipe I used:
- 2 litres (quarts) of water
- ~8 ounces of kosher salt
- ~8 ounces of sugar
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon of cracked pepper
Boil for 5 minutes to dissolve everything. Interesting tip I found: If a (fresh) egg sinks, add more salt until it floats (you'll get the above quantities - I did). Remember to cool it down before putting the fish in it - you don't want to cook it!
Noon: Bag the fish and let it sit in the fridge for 6 hours! My fish was maybe 3/4"-1" thick, so adjust your times accordingly if you get something bigger.
6pm-ish: Take it out, rinse the brine off (it's not that salty due to the shorter brine time), and put it back in the fridge uncovered for another couple of hours to dry it out and cause a pellicle to form (slight sticky feeling to it).
11pm (current outside temp = 45F): Fill and start up my new AMNPS - I used the oak pellets that came with it, but traditionally people use Alder for a lighter smoke flavour. (Hind sight: use alder) Personal note, I can't believe how much smoke comes off this thing.
11:30pm: Put the fish on the racks and place in the smoker - box temp is around 45F at the time (remote probe is put through a potato to get reading). The golden rule is to keep the temp below 80F as fish starts to cook!
midnight (outside temp = 35F: MES box temp is now 60F and rising steadily due to the AMNPS, even with the outdoor temp drop. Neighbors are probably wondering about the source of the smoke smell if they had a window open, but it smells good so I'm not worrying. :) Filled the drip tray with ice, and the box dropped to 55F and stayed there.
12:30am: Go to bed.
8:00am: Wake up and check the fish - the AMNPS had fully burned out, so I've got to learn how to slow it down - probably got 7 hours out of it (which explains the heavy smoke it generated).
Pulled it out and it's fully done anyways, nice texture and colour.
Time to slice a bunch for breakfast and vacbag the rest!
First time cold smoking, and I'm impressed with the results.