I am looking for some tips and advice, along with answers to a few questions I have.
I am now using a Smokin-It #1 electric smoker for the first time, after using various grills and bbq's over the years to grill fish, poultry and pork with a touch of added smoke, I am only familiar with smoking on a grill setup. This is quite a different beast.
As I am new to the electric smoking world I am facing a bit of a learning curve, so I have been reading tons and tons of forums and many posts on this forum.
I am thankful to all of the help I have already received by the great posts here!
I attempted my first salmon smoke over the weekend. I used essentially the AKhap method which I found to offer the best directions and sound reasons for the correct way to hot smoke salmon.
I did the 90 Minute brine that AKhap lists with just 3 salmon filets (aprox 3lb total). 2 Fresh out of the package filets and 1 thawed from my freezer that was about 2 weeks old. Sockeye Copper River Salmon to be exact ($10.00/lb at Costco right now!)
After brining and rinseing. It took about 90 minutes to get the pellicle to for. In hindsight I am not sure if I had enough pellicle at all - but it looked nice and shiny and covered the whole surface with a very nice sheen. I placed it inside my kitchen on some racks next to a couple of open windows, it was about 70 deg F, with a small breeze in that location. I need more help with the pellicle formation - any tips?
They then went in the smoker. I used 2oz of various wood chips (1oz of Alder, 1/2oz of apple, 1/2oz of cherry). The oven temps bounced around a bit, and I ran out of wood after about 2 hours. I found it settled in at around 150° degrees, after first going as high as 180°, once the wood started smoking steadily. I couldn't get the smoker to the target of 140° easily, but I will work on that. I added some wood chips later in the process as I couldn't see any more smoke, and It was stalling with the fish at about 136°. The oven temp would spike with the new addition of chips (2x), and the fish would then very slowly go up in temperature - I finally pulled it out at around 144° internal temperature after about 3-1/2 hrs (it looked pretty dry at that point, and there were some very small white "buggers". My Maverick temp probes are new and test fine. I think using wood chips is fine for a different meat like ribs, but I think I need chunks so they don't burn as hot and fast as the chips seem to. The oven would spike up to 200° if I put in a 1/3oz of new chips in the tray.Water did appear on the surface in some of the cracks where the fish was a bit damaged (I tried to purchase the smoothest filets I could find) one had a pretty good tear it it that probably made my fish dry out.
The final verdict is that the salmon, while it tastes good and looks about right, I am not totally satisfied with it. It is a bit salty for my taste, a bit dry, and a bit too smoked...
So here are some questions:
Is it better to use frozen salmon compared with fresh (AKhap mentioned that in one thread)? I can't tell the difference in the pieces I smoked, but since they are poor quality examples it is not a good test.
How long of a temperature stall is normal (if any) - this time it spent the last aprox 2 hrs at 136-140 - I am used to a temp stall with pork at a higher temps?
Chunks better than chips? Yes or No?
Tips for less salt and a sweeter flavor?
By the way my wife loves the fish, I think it is OK, and my son thinks it is too smokey...
Thanks again for any tips and help!