JayBone's 18.5" WSM Kenai River Silver Salmon Smokefest

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Finally got some time off Christmas week to smoke up some of the Silver/Coho Salmon I caught and brought home from the Kenai River up in Soldotna Alaska the last week of August 2013.
First time smoking fish on the 18.5" Weber Smoky Mountain.
Real pleased with the results.
Hope you enjoy the show.

Started off by fully opening all vents (top & bottom), then made a snake pattern of Kingsford blue charcoal briquets 2 wide and 2 deep topped with handfuls of alder dust and chips;

The salmon was brined for 12 hours using a very simple brine;
1 Cup Pickling Salt
1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Gallon Water
The salmon was then patted dry and aired out on Bradley racks in the fridge overnight for pellicle formation;

Started the coals about 11:00 am planning on a 8 to 10 hour smoke session.
I used no water in my WSM water pan but I do have a clay flower pot base in it.
These were foiled over for easier cleanup.
I placed the first rack of salmon on top of the foiled water pan;

I increased the number of fish racks I could use by adding a Pro Q BBQ Stacker in my WSM;

Used wood blocks on my second salmon rack to place another directly above it;

Here's the third rack of salmon;

Here's the final/fourth rack of salmon;

Put the lid on and let the magical smoke begin to do its stuff;

The thin blue smoke is a little hard to make out but here it is;

After about an hour the WSM top rack temp maxed out at about 115 deg F so I added another layer of briquets on top of the alder.
This got the temp up to about 160 deg F where it remained for the rest of the smoke session.
Next time I'll start with coals 2 wide and 3 high.
Not sure exactly how long the coals lasted because I fell asleep around 8:00pm after about 9 hours of smoke.
Woke up about 4:00am and took the next photo before removing and vacuum sealing the salmon;

Finished product vacuum sealed and ready for the freezer;

Pretty happy with the way this turned out.
I think the combination of a good pellicle formation and smoking at lower temps (~160 deg F) kept that mushy ugly white protein material from protruding through the fish.
I like my smoked fish texture a little on the dry side and this batch did not disappoint.
Nice smoke penetration throughout.

Thanks for looking!
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Thanks for sharing your technique and all the photo's  
Thanks for the kind words Squatch!

I knew a little about smoking meats before I stumbled upon this forum but the information shared by forum members has really helped me get more comfortable and, I think, a little
better at smoking.

It was fellow SmokingMeatForums members that convinced me to get the 18.5" Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) and I've been very happy with it.

Good luck to you and happy smoking!
Wow JayBone!  Looks awesome!  And I love it that you knew your fish when it was still swimmin!

I've been looking for a simple brine for my salmon ... and yours looks great!  I've been doing a pretty elaborate brine with a whole bunch of citrus and spices and white wine ... and the salmon turns out wonderful ... but the mixins are a little spendy for a batch.  And I like you're idea of a little drier and "no-fat-exposed" ...

Here's a pic of our latest Christmas-time salmon smoke.  It was devoured in a hurry!

Again, great job!  Keep the smoke goin!

The Wisconsin White Rhino!
Thanks rhinodbj!

I also have some fairly elaborate salmon brines that I use from time to time.
Also do some dry brining where you layer the filets after covering with spices and herbs.
This draws a bunch of liquid out of the fish and you actually end up with a brine where all the liquid is from the fish.
It's a lot of fun varying recipes and techniques.
This time around I just wanted something simple.
Thanks for sharing your smoked salmon Q-View.
It looks great and I love seeing the beer in the background.

Happy smoking to you!
Hey JayBone, we are practically neighbors... do you fish locally too?

Pretty good Salmon run this year, I've got some nice fresh orange meat vacuum sealed in the freezer myself, but I am a rookie to smoking it so I'm still browsing through idea's and taking note's at this point!          

Hey Squatch,

I have done some local fishing in the past.
Mainly out of the bay area and the Sacramento River for salmon.
Used to do a lot of trolling for trout in nearby Sierra Mountain & foot hill lakes.
Nowadays I work just about every day including holidays so I don't have much time for fishing.
I do take a week off in August each year for fishing the Kenai Peninsula & Cook Inlet in Alaska so the freezer stays pretty full of salmon & halibut.

This is a great site for smoking related research and entertainment.
The folks here are very friendly and love sharing their experiences.
Excellent search feature for finding tons of specific information.

Happy Smoking!

Nice looking batch of Salmon you did there. 

Question:  Are you a Greenbay Packer fan?   I notice the formation of the coals shaped like the letter G.  Hmmmmm.
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