This is my first post from the standpoint of adding something of value to the forum. I admit to the fundamental fact I am a smoked salmon snob. Further, I am terrible at trying to say nice things about stuff I know is not first-rate... I have been very serious about smoking salmon for right at four decades and we do a lot of salmon every year.
What I am going to do is show my basic salmon smoking process in a very simplified form... It will include absolutely everything needed to produce outstanding smoked salmon with details about why I do it the way I do... Please, do not hesitate to question, challenge, or beg on any aspect of what I post. Some things will not agree with what you see on a regular basis and I may very well step on some toes... I apologize in advance and will happily explain why I will remain adamant on those points.
If I do not get run off I promise to show some things like smoked black cod and spectacular whole smoked Dolly Varden fileted from the inside out...
Outside my window as I type this we are under a severe weather warning... I hope my smoker is still here in the morning:
400 PM AKDT TUE SEP 4 2012
...HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 AM AKDT WEDNESDAY
ALONG EAST ANCHORAGE THE HILLSIDE AND TURNAGAIN ARM...
.TONIGHT...RAIN. LOWS IN THE MID 40S TO LOWER 50S. ALONG EAST
ANCHORAGE AND THE LOWER HILLSIDE...SOUTHEAST WIND INCREASING TO 35 TO
50 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 60 MPH THIS EVENING. ALONG TURNAGAIN ARM AND
HIGHER ELEVATIONS...SOUTHEAST WIND INCREASING TO 70 TO 85 MPH WITH
GUSTS TO 100 MPH THIS EVENING. THE REST OF ANCHORAGE...SOUTHEAST WIND
15 TO 25 MPH INCREASING TO 30 TO 45 MPH LATE THIS EVENING. WINDS
DIMINISHING TOWARDS MORNING.
I can see Turnagain Arm out the window, a block away... So I stand a very good chance of losing this entire post at any moment... If it was anywhere else they would name this little weather event...
I have seen salmon from start to finish... even commercial fished for them over 30 years ago...
The water is alive with salmon...
Okay, just wasted too much of my life in PhotoBucket trying to find a picture that seems to be gone...
Start with good salmon, fillets, skin-on, and previously frozen. Fresh salmon may take up the brine unevenly and this never happens with previously frozen fish, so I always use fish that has been frozen. If you bought the fish it probably has been around long enough to go in and out of rigor mortis which is probably plenty good enough. There are five species of Pacific Salmon in AK and we get all of them. Rainbow trout/steelhead is really a salmon and drawing the line between sea-run cutthroat trout and salmon is really an exercise in splitting hairs... but we get both of those as well. Add Dolly Varden and lake trout to round out our menu and realize they may all be treated just the same.
This not the most antiseptic smoking...
Farmed Atlantic salmon is only acceptable food if you are a cat... From the incredible negative aspects of the dangers of raising them in Pacific Salmon waters to the dye used to boost their color acceptance to the fact they are at best mediocre table fare, they should be avoided...
I believe in keeping fish frozen and smoking in small batches as opposed to the concept of freezing smoked salmon. Smoked fish (food in general) is usually best right out of the smoker, in my opinion and freezing smoked fish does not improve texture, especially, or anything else.
Because of the weather I am going to go ahead and post this and take things in small steps... please bear with me.