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King Salmon

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I got volunteered to smoke salmon for my aunt and uncle even though I had never done it.  My mom went out and bought a whole fresh wild king salmon and dropped it off, so now I've got a beautiful, very expensive and giant fish (they filleted it at the market, I just had to pull the pin bones) and I'm not sure what to do, so I took to the googles....


I came up with a combination from different recipes that made sense to me and I want to share it with for other people who are trying to figure out what to do with salmon because it turned out amazing.


Brine (12 hours):

1 3/4 cups Morton's Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar


Remove from brine, rinse thoroughly, pat dry, and rub. I used a light dusting of store-bought because this is my first try, Tom Douglas's Rub with Love for salmon.


Let sit out at room temperature with a fan on it for about 2 hours.  You are looking for it to dry out and form what is called a pellicle. Basically the surface of the meat starts to look a little darker and drier.  


Then I fired up my Smoke Vault to 225 with a bunch of hickory in it.  (most people seem to prefer alder, but hickory is what I had and I have been smoking everything with hickory because I love it).  Since I can't really go lower temp with this rig, I wanted to make sure that I got a good smoke on it, so after the smoke started dying down, threw another handful on and that carried it through to the end.


I'm not sure exactly how long it took, maybe 2 hours but seemed like a little less, the probe in the thickest part hit 140 and I pulled it.


I wish I had Qview for you but I promise it looked fantastic.  I'm sharing this because it is by far my most successful meal out of the smoker.  I've had some good ones, but people went nuts over this.  My uncle said it was the best salmon he's ever had and wrapped some up to take it back to Michigan with him.

Edited by blodzoo - 5/29/14 at 9:20am
post #2 of 10

Great story and experience blodzoo!  Well written.  Congrats on such a successful salmon smoke.  The comments you received from your guests are music to any smoker's ears. 

post #3 of 10

Nice write up.   Yes, next time, let's have some pics.  Was your brine just the salt and sugar?   If so, I must say that I am surprised you used so much salt vs sugar.  Wasn't too salty?   I ask this because my dry brine ratio is 4/1 sugar/salt.   But you know something?  That recipe worked for you and that's all that's important.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Sorry I never responded to this, just got ahold of another salmon and decided to find this recipe.


The answer is yes, that was all I put in the brine.  As far as being too salty, I think it was just barely on the edge.  Some of the thinner bits were pushing the boundaries of acceptable saltiness but in a delicious way (probably partially due to the higher proportion of rub to fish in the thin spots).  Any more would have started pushing it into a bad place.  


When I do it again, I'll take pics and maybe I'll up the sugar and down the salt a bit, but not much.

post #5 of 10

Awesome.  My wife is somewhere out on the Pacific as I type, hunting for King Salmon.  She apparently just brought in a monster.  So I will also be doing some smoking in the near future as well.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

mind posting your recipe?

post #7 of 10

My brine is very simple.  4/1 ratio of  brown sugar / non iodized salt.  Lots of fresh minced garlic added.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Forgive me for being such a noob, I've only cooked salmon once....


That's a dry brine?  So you just rub the salt/sugar/garlic mixture on the fish and let it sit overnight, rinse in the morning and smoke?

post #9 of 10

Everybody I know brings me their salmon to smoke. Have probably 15lbs of it in the freezer now from various people.  Funny thing is I can't stand the stuff. I use the dry brine also. 4 cups brown sugar and 1 heavy cup of kosher salt. I also add a spice blend called Caribbean Calypso that really puts it over the top. Or at least I have been told. Caribbean Calypso has dried orange, lemon, and lime zest with some ancho chili pepper in it.


I usually brine overnight. Rinse brine off thoroughly and then place on wire racks in room temp air for several hours. I smoke at about 140 or 150 with apple and oak wood. Usually takes 5 to 6 hours. I just go by firmness of the fish.

This is from one of my recent batches.



post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by blodzoo View Post

Forgive me for being such a noob, I've only cooked salmon once....


That's a dry brine?  So you just rub the salt/sugar/garlic mixture on the fish and let it sit overnight, rinse in the morning and smoke?

Sorry for the late reply.

Yes it is a dry brine. My typical process for filets is:

Brine for 7 hours
Rinse and dry for 2 hours
Smoke for 3-4 hours
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