Originally Posted by katemail13
Please tell me what 'AKHap's method' is...? I want to smoke some salmon tomorrow, and yours looks beautiful, and delicious!
Also, what is pellicle? ...and how does one make this happen?
Hello Katie. I'd be glad to share with you what I have learned from this very forum. I learned what I know from some great folks who have posted before me. AKhap is a member of smokingmeatforums. After doing a bunch of research on this site, I decided to give his method a try. You can find his original (and full) post here...
"Hot Smoking Salmon—Throwing Down the Gauntlet" (by AKhap). http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/127170/hot-smoking-salmon-throwing-down-the-gauntlet
You can also take a look at my post from my first salmon smoke here: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/141790/my-first-salmon-trial-akhap-method-with-qview
(it's got a few more pics than this post).
The pellicle is a tacky surface produced on the flesh after drying. This is an important step in allowing the smoke to "stick" to the flesh. The pellicle is critical.
For my own use, I took the liberty of condensing AKhap's original post (and all the comments) into a shortened version with just the key points. (I hope AKhap doesn't mind). I have pasted this "For Dummies", "Reader's Digest" version here...
Preparing the Salmon
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 previously frozen. Never use Farmed Atlantic salmon.
Brining the Salmon
The Brine Recipe: For each gallon of water (brine) add one cup non-iodized salt and two cups brown sugar. Bring to a boil while mixing, then cool.
I use food grade five-gallon buckets and cut the salmon in chunks of about a half pound. Cover with the cooled hypertonic brine and soak fish for exactly 90 minutes (no more, no less). Then rinse well with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and place on the racks for pellicle formation.
Drying the Salmon—The Pellicle
“The pellicle is critical”
Put fans on your fish on high speed; hit it with everything you have to produce a beautiful, glassy surface. It is the single most important step in the entire process and cannot be ignored or worked around. The surface is critical, but the depth is also an important element. If it is very dry out and the surface glazes beautifully in 15 minutes it might make you think the pellicle is ready, but unfortunately it is not. The pellicle is well formed when it is solid, glassy, continuous, does not give much when pressed, and looks and feels substantial.
Smoking the Salmon
Put the fish in the smoker and start the smoke running heavy. This is the most important smoke as the fish is wetter and will absorb far more smoke now than later. Consider using multiple woods: a mild wood (alder, maple, birch, cottonwood) is a great starting point to get the smoke started. Adding a wood like cherry (apricot, peach, apple, pear, or plum are very close) for a sour note followed by a good shot of hearty (mesquite, hickory, pecan) builds a flavor profile with a lot of character.
Smoker temp: 140 degrees (peak of 150 max. if it’s hard to control heat)
Fish is done at 140 degrees internal temp.
Approx smoke time of 5 hours.
Smoke fish to 140* F internal temp. NEVER smoke salmon over 140 F !!! The temperature is critical in smoking salmon and 140F is the magic number. Start at 140F if you like and keep it there, or start under 140 and work up if you feel your fish needs a little more time.
Salmon pieces are seldom the same thickness and conditions are always very different so there is absolutely no way to predict how long it takes to finish your fish in your smoker! The fish should be very firm. Start with the thinnest pieces first when looking for "done" and any pieces that hint at white fat are done. The salmon should flake nicely and show very uniform texture throughout the entire piece.
So... If I can do it, anyone can do it. Happy smoking.