Hot smoked salmon with lots of Q-View

Discussion in 'Fish' started by kgb1, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Hello fellow smokers.  I did another amazing smoked salmon a couple weekends ago.  Sorry it's taken so long to post the QView (you know... work, life, family, yada yada).  So, here we go...

    I made up my basic water, salt, brown sugar brine the night before and refrigerated it overnight.  In the morning I brined the salmon pieces for 90 minutes.

    After the 90-minute brine, they went under the fan for a few hours to form the perfect pellicle.  The one thing I've learned (and will never forget) is that the pellicle is critical.  Here they are just out of the brine starting to form the pellicle.

    I had them under the fan (on the highest setting) for a few hours.  It is hard to see from these pics, but an absolutely perfect pellicle formed.  (can you tell I was proud that?)  [​IMG]    See for yourselves:

    I have a Char-Griller smoker with the side fire box.  I was using cherry wood chunks for this smoke.  I really like using cherry on salmon lately.  So, around noon they were ready for the smoker. 

    Now, the hard part with my rig and my location is keeping the smoke chamber temp down.  The smoker chamber temp should stay down to around 140*.  Otherwise the fat in the flesh starts to render.  This means CONSTANTLY monitoring my wood burn.  Even with the intake vents almost completely closed, I burn 1-2 chunks at a time or it will get too hot.  I even had the smoker in the shade of my big patio umbrella.  Did I mention it was a nice, sunny 70* day that Saturday?  [​IMG]

    Now for the money shots.  Beautiful smoked salmon.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any fillets at the store where the flesh didn't have some sort of broken flesh.  The broken flesh did produce a few little "white spots" of rendered fat.  Being a perfectionist, I was disappointed about that, but the rest of the final product (taste, texture, etc) was excellent.  The family loved it.

    Wow!! Just posting the QView had got me all hungry again.  All I can think about now is planning my next smoke.

    [​IMG]   Happy smoking everyone.
    disco and smoking b like this.
  2. nozzleman

    nozzleman Smoking Fanatic

    I think you did a fine job, those couple little spots of white wouldn't slow me down one little bit.  How long did you smoke them?
  3. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thanks nozzleman, I appreciate your compliment.  Don't worry; those spots didn't slow me down one bit.  [​IMG]    They were delicious!!  I just always aim for perfection.  I had them in the smoker for just over 5 hours.  Once they reached an IT of 140*, I pulled them off and started to plate.
  4. Your salmon looks really good man  [​IMG]   You now have me wanting to do some more salmon - it's been a few months... Thanks for the inspiration  [​IMG]
  5. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thank you Smoking B.  Glad I could help inspire.  [​IMG]   I am still such a newbie, so I really appreciate your comments.  You guys are always inspiring me. 
  6. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man I would tear into that. Good job.

    I need to do more too.
  7. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Stunning salmon, stunning Qview and great post.


    Well done.

  8. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thank you cfarmer.  I appreciate it.
  9. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thanks Disco.  I'll take that.  I can't wait to do more.  This smoking thing is very additive in such a good way. 
  10. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have never noticed. Excuse me, I have to check my smoker.
  11. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

  12. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow, that looks awesome..... I love smoked salmon, nice job !! :kewl:
  13. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thanks WaterinHoleBrew.  BTW, if memory serves from viewing your other posts; you are a home beer brewer.  My friend is also a home brewer.  It works out great--I smoke the meat, he provides the beer.  Win-win all the way.
  14. newsmokeguy

    newsmokeguy Smoke Blower

    Nice fish
  15. That looks so good! The color, and texture, and skin!!! I'd devour it!!! Great job!!! Cheers! - Leah
  16. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower

    Thanks Leah.  It was great.  The family certainly devoured it.  And my son loves the skin as well. 
  17. Looks awesome! first smoking was done last Saturday and it turned out pretty good...did some beef some bear and some salmon...Im a lil confused on the whole pellicle part tho? Can you please enlighten me?

    Also how much of each ingredient did you use in your brine?
  18. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    Just seeing this thread for the first time. Salmon looks absolutely wonderful!! Now I want some smoked salmon!
  19. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    eh.....not bad for a SF bay area mid peninsula resident.  [​IMG]
  20. kgb1

    kgb1 Smoke Blower


    the short version of the answer is...  the pellicle is getting the flesh to be tacky and what helps the smoke adhere to the flesh.

    the much longer version of the answer is...  (also from one of my former posts: AND

    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).

    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.  

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