Charcoal smoking for Salmon?

Discussion in 'Fish' started by cmayna, May 9, 2013.

  1. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Since 90% of my smoking is Salmon,  would a charcoal smoker work as well if not better as a gasser for this type of food? Would it be worth going down the charcoal highway?    I started out with a big chief electric but have had many instances where I could not get the chamber temp up to 200 thus I switched over to a Masterbuilt gasser which was a bear to get the temp down, until I got a needle valve. Now it works pretty good.  But I guess my interest in experimenting with charcoal is strictly what the flavor would be like.  

    Would you have a pan of wood chips or chunks over the coals or mix the wood chunks in with the coals?  Also since I normally smoke the fish for only 2-3 hours, is charcoal the way to go?
    Last edited: May 9, 2013
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Charcoal-fired smokers do impart a deeper overall flavor profile as well as add more NO2 for enhanced smoke ring development with meats. I prefer charcoal-fired over propane. For hot smoked Salmon the flavor would be enhanced, and for shorter smokes wouldn't be difficult to manage fire control, unless it's an open-bottom style smoke chamber such as a Smoke n Grill (Brinkmann).

    Smoke woods can be added directly to the coals with chunks, or in a seasoned metal container for chips...chips will burn too quickly in open air with close proximity to the fire.

  3. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Thanks for the reply.  Is it easy to keep the temps down to around 200-225 in a charcoal smoker?   I know most have recommended the WSM for overall charcoal smoking.  Would it be the best design mainly for fish?
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Craig, morning.....  I had a similar problem with my Totem Smoker....  along with an insulating blanket, below is what I did to overcome the heat problem....   I still use it ..... I learned how to smoke fish on it and I am afraid to change smokers...  My fish comes out perfect on this thing....   I guess after 25 years of smoking on it I should have been able to do something right...  If you like the Big Chief, and make great smoked fish, I'd keep using it...  It is difficult to get perfection when you switch smokers....   Just my $1.85's worth of what I think.... 

  5. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Thanks for the link to your chief's mod.  Something I might consider doing to my big chief.  My big chief worked pretty good when smoking during warm weather. But during cold days, what a bear.
    Last edited: May 10, 2013

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