I have wanted to try smoking some salmon. I have a recipe that I grilled that I want to convert. However, a cooking instructor from decades ago taught me that you always start with a classic recipe before experimenting. My experience on this forum leads me to consider any recipe from Bearcarver a classic so I have started with his recipe prior to going out on my own,
The original post is at http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/91264/final-smoked-salmon-with-recipe-instructions-and-qview if you want to see the classic by the master.
It all started with a sale on salmon. Here in the mountains, buying a salmon filet usually involves mortgaging your home and saving for a year. However, they had a sale on frozen wild pink salmon fillets so I picked up a package. Pink salmon wasn't my first choice and these were skinny straggly trimmed fillets but I can still afford to eat for the rest of the month.
Bear says to skin the fish. I had to admit to some doubt. I have cooked a lot of salmon when I lived on the coast and rarely skinned it . However, I can not give one good reason not to skin it and it does seem more likely to let more brine and smoke in.
Whenever I try a new recipe, I start small so I only made 1/2 batch of Bear's brine. I could have got away with 1/3. Bear's Brine recipe is on his post above.
As the fillets were under 1/2 inch, I left them in for four hours. Bear states give them 6 hours if they are over 1/2 inch thick. Then, I put them on rack, dabbed them with paper towel to dry and in the fridge overnight. to dry the surface.
Here they are out of the fridge. I have to admit I wondered about drying the surface. My experience with salmon is that the surface will remain somewhat damp for a long time whatever you do. Regardless, they got the drying time.
I didn't have alder pellets which is my preferred salmon smoke from grilling so I went to my second favourite, Maple. I find it has a similar mild smoke like alder. Here it is loaded in the Bradley.
Bear's recipe calls for an hour at 100 F. The Bradley only goes down to 120 F so I did the first hour without any heat applied in the Bradley. The AMNPS raised the temperature to 90 F so it was close. the rest of the smoke went like this:
After one hour at 90 F, the IT was 78. I increased the temperature to 120 F.
After 1/2 hour at 120 F the IT was 90. I increased the temperature to 140 F
After 1/2 hour at 140 F the IT was 98. I increased the temperature to 160 F
After 1/2 hour at 160 F the IT was 109. I increased the temperature to 180 F.
After 1/2 hour at 180 F the IT was 120. I increased the temperature to 200 F.
It took 1 hour and 40 minutes longer to bring the IT to 140 F.
Here is the finished product.
The verdict. Excellent. There is a nice brine flavour, a touch of sweetness and a nice texture even from these raggedy salmon fillets. This is a classic hot smoked salmon.
I learned a lot following this recipe and feel more confident about trying to convert my favourite grilled salmon to the smoker. Thanks to Bear for his sharing his experience.