My smoked salmon fillet recipe/process

Discussion in 'Fish' started by alaskansmokesignals, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. alaskansmokesignals

    alaskansmokesignals Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    My recipe/process was requested here; it is below.

    First a word though. I've messed about trying to add things from spices to premade sauces to whatever for something like 20 years now, and for my salmon the best recipe/process has been the simplest: Salmon fillets, salt (lots), sugar (tiny bit), pepper, and smoke. Here it is:

    Smoked Salmon Fillets

    Boil a large soup pot of water, adding as much non-iodized salt as it'll take, until more just settles on the bottom. Let it cool; this takes many hours but is faster if setting it outside or in a cooler on a block of ice. Or do it the day before and let it sit; salt water doesn't go bad if covered.

    Pour water only - leaving extra salt on the bottom of the pot (to use for the next batch) into a clean 5 gallon bucket; it should be almost half full.

    Add one cup white sugar and stir it in. No more sugar than this or you'll kill the salt part of the cure.

    Add enough salmon fillets that will fill every rack on your smoker (about 20 - 25 for me) and gush them around a bit but not rudely. Try to do fillets that are close to the same in thickness. Mine are too long to fit in my 24" Smoke Vault so I often lop 6 inches off the tail (the best part; no Y bones) and do all of those tails in one special batch. Doing this lets you smoke similar thicknesses of fillets making your product more consistent.

    Soak only 30-60 minutes:
    - 30 minutes is normal, for fillets 3/4 inch thick to maybe 1 inch thick
    - Longer for more salty finished product (which I prefer, but many others don't so I do both kinds)
    - If huge King Salmon that is really thick, strip it lengthwise into strips 1 inch wide so it gets into the meat
    - My favorite is 3/4 inch thick for a 45 minute soak, but I like it salty; vary to your own taste.

    Remove from soak, do not rinse, lay on racks, and wait until they're not all soppy/shiny wet-like; maybe 45 minutes. If you're in a huge hurry use a fan and its more like 15.

    Dust with black pepper.

    Smoke'm on apple or cherry wood with your smoker temp at 150 F max, until fillets have internal temp of 130 F. Pull fillets individually as they're done, not the whole smoker's contents at once. Towards the end you're checking and pulling fillets every 10 minutes.

    Let them cool, plus some. I vacuum pack mine and freeze to use all year long; if you package them up too soon they re-hydrate and water in there is bad. So let them sit overnight out in the open then cut into the portions you want and vacuum pack, this is about 12 hours later.

    That's it; simple and straightforward.
  2. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Alaska (i was going to shorten name to initials, but that didn't look very good!) -

    this looks great - i do appreciate your posting.

    two questions:

    a) how do you think it does with other fish, including trout, walleye, northerns, whitefish etc.? i've smoked quite a few trout and some of the others, but no salmon here.

    b) may i copy/paste this over at my place, giving credit to you as the author?

  3. linda5508

    linda5508 Newbie

    I had a another salmon dish in mind today but i'm going to try this out.
  4. alaskansmokesignals

    alaskansmokesignals Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    a) I haven't done that, and frankly I'm not sure I would. But if you do, please let me know, OK? But I have done hundreds of pounds of sockeye salmon this way and we love it. The natural good taste of the salmon fits really well with the exact amount of salt that you prefer, and we're each a little different on that, which is why I vary the salt brine times as stated.

    With those other fish species, I'd be more tempted to go with a Yoshida based soak, diluting with about 50% beer, and a longer soak time.

    b) Yes you may, and thanks for asking; I posted it to share. I get great recipes and ideas from others here and wanted to give back. I'll have to check out your place.

    Let me know how it works. If you find a problem doing that or make a nice improvement to it, please let me know or post it here.

    If you're unsure of your favorite brine-timing, try half your batch at a 30 minute brine and half at 45. Then plan to use the 45 for when you make a cream cheese dip (with green onion and a touch of red pepper) because that recipe loves salt. And eat the 30 batch straight, on crackers. And the second time you'll know exactly which you prefer.
  5. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    many thanks!

    your advice for other species makes sense, and i'll have to give the yoshida/beer a try with some of the ones i catch. we don't have any salmon here available for catching, but i would like to try your method - perhaps on a large trout or perhaps i could buy some salmon - not as good as fresh-caught, but here in montana we learn to make do.
  6. Sounds great. Will have to try this. Have made smoked salmon before but it has come out as more cooked through (did at 200). I'd imagine that since you are at 150 until it comes up to 130 then you are getting a more dried consistency.

    Do you then cook this or do you eat it as is?
  7. alaskansmokesignals

    alaskansmokesignals Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    My usual way is eating it just as is, on a wheat or ritz cracker. My wife's is to mix with cream cheese, scallions, and red pepper and then dip a cracker in that.

    After smoking I portion, vacuum pack, freeze, and later just thaw gently/slowly in the fridge to use.

    Yeah, I'd say never get the smoker above 150; from what I've done I think that to be important.

    But each of us know what we know, do what we do, and usually like our own results, so I say to each our own!
  8. cwb124

    cwb124 Newbie

    I just did this recipe. Just pulled the filets off the smoker. I actually used steelhead as it was $2/lb cheaper than salmon.

    I pulled off a little piece and it was so salty my bunghole puckered up. The taste is good but its very salty. I am wondering if rinsing it off next time would make sense.
  9. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks for the recipe, however living in Kansas I will probably never get the chance to enjoy it unless I get real lucky...[​IMG]
  10. cwb124

    cwb124 Newbie

    They don't sell farm raised salmon in Kansas?
  11. alaskansmokesignals

    alaskansmokesignals Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    Were your fillets 3/4" to 1" thick? I'm betting they were slimmer than that, which would make the finished product more salty. So cut your soak time down.
  12. fishawn

    fishawn Smoking Fanatic

    **** dude!... Why confuse them?.......It's way easier than your method!.. ..... Take a "Typical" filet of Sockeye or Coho, cover it good with Kosher Salt for 1.5 - 2 hours....... rinse it .....dry it....... and smoke it.... That is the best smoked salmon you can get.... All the other BS is just, well ...BS! He can say he lives or is from Alaska, Canada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Tex-Ass,. It don"t matter.......
  13. cwb124

    cwb124 Newbie

    Well that was pretty uncalled for. The guy was nice enough to share his recipe with everyone. There are many ways to smoke salmon and have it come out great.
  14. Probably could have been stated a little nicer such as "I find it easier to do..." and not anything about BS or where he lives.
  15. cwb124

    cwb124 Newbie

    By the way, after I pulled the salmon off last night and realized they were too salty, I rinsed off the cooked fish. I know it was risky but I had nothing to lose, it was almost inedible. So I rinsed each hunk of filet, patted them dry and left them sit out for several hours. I vacuum packed all but 2 chunks and froze most of it.

    I made myself a caesar salad today for lunch and put a warmed up filet on top. The salad was delicious. The salmon was less salty because of the rinse and had great flavor and a nice firm texture. Good stuff. Will make again but I will soak for a shorter period of time.
  16. alaskansmokesignals

    alaskansmokesignals Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    The thickness of the fillet is paramount to getting the right soak time. Some of the sockeye salmon I catch here are well over 30 inches long and none are runts.

    Or it could be something of the meat itself. The ones I get here have barely or not at all seen fresh water since they were a smolt; so they're a salt water fish. That has to make a difference on the meat, vs. a great lakes salmon, or other types than what I have here.

    I did some salmon bellies in a separate batch in the smoker this year and got them too salty - because they were thinner and I'd not compensated enough - so those are the ones that make smoked salmon dip, where you need extra salt. And other fillets here go to eating straight or on a cracker.
  17. flyhigh123

    flyhigh123 Smoke Blower

    is this for like lox like quality, like the bagel salmon type, or is this a bit more cooked?? thanks for the help and great write up..

    also, just to have an idea, how long are you typically smoking for?
  18. alaskansmokesignals

    alaskansmokesignals Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    Not sure how to characterize; its smoked salmon. Doesn't look cooked really, yet doesn't look raw, doesn't look all shiny and pricey like lox....

    Ambient temp here varies wildly depending on when you do this, which varies it between like a 4 hr smoke (likely for most ppl) to an 8 hour smoke (if you're somewhere cold).
  19. yount

    yount Meat Mopper

    thanks for the post gonna try this today

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