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Internal temp of smoked salmon

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Fall is a long way off before my son brings me some more Kings to smoke,  But I am already thinking about it.  May do a test run with expensive "store bought" wild salmon, if I can afford it.



Two reputable sources recommends 120* to 125* as safe IT for salmon.


America's Test Kitchen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJeWrA8j1M0 recommends wild salmon to 120*  farmed raided salmon to 125*.Also, I noticed they used sous-vide to bring it a controlled cooked temp.  That is even more anaerobic than smoking is,  I would think.


Thermaworks (Thermapen) http://www.thermoworks.com/blog/2014/02/recommended-temperatures-seafood/  recommends 125* for salmon.(Pretty much the same as the Test Kitchen). Though I assume they are talking baked, broiled, or grilled.



I've always noticed that my salmon looks good in color, and is flaky, well before it reaches 140-160*  I start low and gradually increase smoker temps,   But I always try to reach that magic safe temp of 145-160*  And it turns to dry and leathery fish that is very disappointing in texture.


Why do so many people recommend taking it to be taken to 145* for 1/2 hour, or to reach 160* for shorter time?

Wouldn't it be safe to take to 125* and then only progress to higher temps to desired texture of the fish?


I know some folks say, smoke it until it flakes and it's done, without using a temp or time.  But I like to know the IT is safe.  So what am I to believe? 


All my salmon has been frozen at 0* to 10* below zero, for at least 3 to 6 weeks, before smoking.


Waiting to hear from "knowledgeable" people "with experience" on this.

post #2 of 6

Here is what the USDA recommends.





post #3 of 6

I pull mine out of the smoker at 140*  All of our Salmon that we smoke is previously frozen, if that means anything.

Edited by cmayna - 3/25/16 at 7:30am
post #4 of 6

From what I have read on salmon, botulism is the target "bacteria" to avoid....  Looking at the pasteurization tables, everything else is taken care of at 130 deg. F, if held there for 112 minutes...    that is the internal temp at the center of the piece of fish....    To combat botulism, I have  regularly used  cure #1 and salt / sugar to preprocess my salmon...   Salmon needs salt and the sugar doesn't hurt either...   I have found no change in flavor when cure #1 has been applied...  I always cure my salmon using 2% salt, 1-2% sugar and 175 ish. Ppm nitrite...   Salmon is allowed 200 Ppm nitrite...

Those guidelines met, you can cook to taste / texture...   I have smoked salmon to 130 deg. F for several hours and the flavor is intense...  the meat dissolves on the tongue...    there is NO chew to the meat...  like it had been pureed in a blender...  This technique is only for folks that like to really taste food and aren't going to puke at the texture...   I highly recommend it for the adventurous... 

For Brides liking, my fish is cooked to 145 deg. F....   rapidly so as to not dry out the fish...   350 deg. oven for 12-15 minutes...  of course that depends on the thickness etc...  You do not want any white fat oozing up through the flakes of meat...  you want all the fat to stay in the meat...  the skin must be left on the meat to keep the fat in also...




Temperature Time Temperature Time
°F (°C) (Minutes) °F (°C) (Seconds)

130 (54.4) 112 min...
131 (55.0) 89 min....
132 (55.6) 71 min....
133 (56.1) 56 min....
134 (56.7) 45 min....
135 (57.2) 36 min....

145 (62.8) 4 min.......



NOTE:   If you are cooking meats or fish etc. in your smoker at 150 deg. F as an example....   at the meat reaches 130 at noon, and then it reaches 145, 2 hours later, the 112 minute time at 130 has been met and no further heating is required...

post #5 of 6

I found two threads particularly useful when developing my hot smoked salmon.  The first is a rather spirited debate about internal temps, here's the link:




The other is a detailed step by step, the link is:




The second thread's method of stepping the temp up gradually I use, but I go up by 10f per hour.  Hope this helps.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone.  I appreciate your help and info.

I've read all of the links provided many times before.  That is why I was surprised by the 120* to 125* final temp recommended by two sources that I would consider reputable.


Any thoughts on why they would do that, when it could lead to their demise by Uncle Sam's USDA?  It puzzles me.  


The USDA has done wonders in food safety education for the country.  However, sometimes the go way overboard. 

Remember we all over cooked our pork for years to 165*, and now it is 145*?  And how many years did it take them to discover that?

Ever have an egg over easy cooked to 160*?  LOL   And if I was brought a steak I had ordered rare, to my table that was cooked to 145*, I would return it without even bothering to cut into it.  Could tell by looking it was over cooked.  So yeah, sometimes the USDA does go overboard.


I did notice in one USDA link provided here the temp of seafood should be 145* IT 

BUT... for "FINNED Fish" it says, only until it flakes and is opaque.    Ummm...  Isn't salmon a finned fish? 

Does it make any difference whether it is from the ocean, or from a fresh water lake, such as Lake Michigan?


I've not seen a USDA site to define the difference between seafood and finned fish for the lay person.


The harder the government works to make things idiot proof, the more idiots, like me, they produce.


If someone has a good link, or explanation for the differences of these two temps. (120-125* vs.140-145*) or an explanation of difference between seafood and finned fish, please post it.

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