My first smoked salmon

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Jul 15, 2007
Southern California
Two weeks ago while shopping for beer and wine at BevMo, I bought some cajun spiced smoked salmon... It was sooo good and I realized, "Duh!!! I've got a smoker. Why not try it."

Well, I went and bought some fresh salmon and researched here and in the books I have. Although I saw several posts on brining the meat before smoking, I decided to cure it with brown sugar, salt and pepper instead. I figured that I could report on my success or failure of an alternative not previously discussed.

Well, the curing pulled much of the moisture out of the fish. After, I applied some home-made cajun rub because I really liked the spice of the BevMo bought fish. But, dummy me, there's a lot of salt in that rub. I think I over salted it with the rub. Or an artifact of the curing process. Anyone with input on that???

I read that the ideal wood for smoking salmon is alder, but around here (Southern California) only wood chips were available. As the fish was already dry from the curing, I opted to soak the chips in wood before applying to the coals. I wanna say I left it on for two hours at about 225.

The fish flaked easily and was very tasty, although a bit too salty for my taste. I'll try brining on my next attempt (and probably without my cajun rub).

Here's a link for the photo...

I haven't quite figgered out how you guys thumbnail the photo into the post just yet. Anyone wanna educate me would be appreciated. And please discuss with me options, opinions, and comments on my first attempt. Always open to constructive criticism.
Link doesn't work for me. Says server is down.

But, I give you kudos for smoking a salmon. That is something I want to also try. But, at $9.99/lb here, it's a bit over my beer budget..

First you need to resize the photo to less then 97KB.
The when you are making your post, there is a tab for manage attachments at the bottom. Click browse and navigate to the file that is your photo. Then click on the upload box. Then close out of the attachment box and click submit new thread.
I think that you really don't want to put cure on a fish unless you are gonna cold smoke it. I think cure AND rub would knock you on your butt with salt. Terry
Ok...Just have to add my $.02 to this one...
I do salmon quite often....and never brine it or cure it in any way...salmon has a nice delicate flavor already...if it aint broke don't fix it...unless you are trying to save it for next 4th of July...leave it alone...coat with a little evoo add a little seasoning of your choice...smoke with some cherry 225* till an internal temp of 140*...then enjoy a very moist, and tasty meal...
Being from the west coast, we do ALOT of salmon here. The salmon University site from Ghost308 is an excellent reference. Their dry cure is great, thats all I use any more. Even though it sounds like alot, don't scrimp on the garlic (is there any such thing as too much garlic?). You also want to use a "milder" wood, I prefer a mix of apple and cherry. I find that mesquite and hickory are too strong for the salmon.
PacMan;67753 said:
Two weeks ago while shopping for beer and wine at BevMo, I bought some cajun spiced smoked salmon... It was sooo good and I realized, "Duh!!! I've got a smoker. Why not try it."

Smoked salmon purest here. (Oregonian moved to Texas) Just where would a Coonass catch a salmon?
Smoked salmon many, many times,

Best way I found for the persons we share our cooking with is.
Rub the fish with evoo, Get some Paul Prudhomme blackened redfish seasoning. Sprinkle it on slowly over the entire piece. You can overdo it, but you have to try to do it. Mine is covered so I can't see the fish, Then shaken off. placed on the smoker low and slow. 1 to 1.5 Hrs at 225@ and it is usually done. I let the fish "tell me" when it is done. Times provided are ball park times my salmon has averaged, there are times I left it on for 2-3 hrs, with very low heat.
I have used alder. apple, mesquite, hickory and it came out great, however a mixture of apple and hickory, Heavier on the hickory seemed to be the best. It has a slightly strong flavor right out of the smoker, however, like spagheti, it actually tastes better the next day.

Placing lemons on it works ok too, just take them off after the first 45 Minutes.

This is one way I do it and is the favored method by myself and my "Critics". Boy do I have critics. But we eat very well!!!

If you want to cure the fish, then you should only use cold smoking (light smoke-temp between 90* and 100*) because the fish is chemically "cooked" in the curing process. If you find it too salty at that point, then several soak and rinse cycles can be used once the cure is complete.

I understand tht Smoky Okie produced some 5 star sockeye @ the Get Together using Prudhomme's Seafood Magic and honey, then hot smoked w/ cherry. Wish I'd been there.
I live in Southern Calif. on the Desert side of the Mts. and I get my Alder Pellets from Lee's Bee's in Lancaster. They are a lanscape type place and carry pellets for stoves and some BBQ pellets. $10.00 for 20 lb bag.
I'm with BigArms Smokin about curing and using the rub. I don't use a brine on salmon, I just go natural with a rub. Sometimes brining can be difficult in controlling the salty taste. The best salmon I ever had was cold smoked from a friend in kalispell, MT. Never had it so good since.
OK I've gotta wade in on this one, I've been smoking salmon all my life and there are several different types of smoked salmon, all are different but all are also very good in their own ways.

Either a wet or dry Brine can be used for "hard smoked salmon" hard smoked shouldn't see a temp greater than 140F. A "soft smoked salmon" can be smoked for a shorter time and canned at 10 lbs for 110 minutes. That process is quite different in that it requires some real heat but it is also good stuff and lasts forever on the shelf. Most of my salmon ends up soft smoked and canned these days. This type is easily stored it's transportable and absolutely great on Ritz crackers with cream cheese.

Long strips of "skin on hard smoked salmon" finished with a dryer coating of dissolved brown sugar, honey and maple syrup is called "squaw candy" and is common in Alaska, it's delicious stuff and fully smoked for long preservation. Great stuff to take backpacking or sailing.

Last but not least, salmon prepared with a light rub or herb wrapped and totaly cold smoking is called Lox. Lox is technically smoked salmon but it never sees anything close to "cooking temps and is a different animal altogether, it is always cold, moist and should be sliced so thin you can see the blade through the slice, it's great on bagels with sliced onion, black pepper and cream cheese, and standard Jewish nosh.

Alder and/or fruit woods are the preferred smoke, anything else is too strong.
I think my son's favorite is salmon. If he see's me pull a fillet out of the bag, he say's "is that for me??!!" I've brined and not brined, didn't notice that much of a difference. The way that I do it though, my salmon is very moist and flaky, not what your going to get by doing a cure. Dutch has a great recipe for a maple glazed smoked salmon. I have used it several times and it is excellent (link below). Another favorite way we've done it is take a lite teriyaki sauce and spread over salmon. Heat up some pineapple preserves and spread over top of the the salmon. Smoke like this and they are out of this world. The fat from the salmon will rise to the top. When there is a good amount, we do a flake test to check for doneness...
Do you have a recipe for this "Squaw candy" or doyou know where I can find one? I've had some of this that a friend brought back from Alaska and have sought it out ever since.

I sure do, this is how I have always done it and I have to give credit to an old brine recipe from Lhuer Jensen for the first part. I've used it for years and never found a better one.

Slice "skin on filet's" into long strips about an inch wide and as long as the fillet, brine the strips 12-24 hours, more is better in the following mixture, (scale up as necessary)

2 cups soy sauce,
1 cup apple juice
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup non-iodized salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Onion powder

After brining 12-24 hours rinse off the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Allow the fish to air dry about an hour until a pelicle is formed, this will be a smeary sort of white sheen to the surface of the fish.

Smoke at less than 140 degrees with alder wood for 8-12 hours until the fish is "hard smoked". It should be nice and firm at this point and it's already very edible, try it and you may not want to go any farther!

Allow the fish to rest in the fridge a few hours to consolidate and then mix up the following over low heat and allow it to cool:

1/3 real maple syrup
1/3-2/3 cup brown sugar
1 dollop of honey or molasses or a mixture of both your choice.

(Note: I use just a small amount of black strap and no honey, otherwise it can get sticky later)

Paint the sweet mixture on the outside of the strips and allow it to air dry, you may return it to the smoke briefly if you think it needs it but the "candy coating" will be sticky until it dries completely and cools off.

A bit time consumiing but pretty basic and simple to do. Give it a shot and let me know what you think! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.