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Smoked My First Salmon Today - QView


Fire Starter
Joined Oct 25, 2013
Hi, all.

I smoked salmon today.  It turned out alright, and I chalk that 'only alright' up to my inexperience, and the not-awesome quality of the salmon I used.

The Salmon:  Skinless frozen fillets from WalMart.  Pretty cheap, and only about 3/4 inch thick at the thickest points.  This was 1 lb.

The Brine:  AKhap's brine, found on this forum, here:  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/127170/hot-smoking-salmon-throwing-down-the-gauntlet.  I used 1/4 of a gallon of water, and the corresponding amount of brown sugar, and non-iodized salt, boiled it, then cooled it.  I brined the fillets for exactly 90 minutes.

After their 90 minutes in the brine, I rinsed them with cool water, patted them dry, then put the box fan on them for almost 3 hours.  I am not sure what, exactly, the pellicle should look like, but I figured this was it.  It was shiny and semi-smooth, and felt dryish, but still moist underneath.

Here's one of the fillets with the pellicle.

I put them in the smoker (preheated) at 140°F with hickory chips.  I smoked them until they were 140°F internal temperature.  This took only about 2.5 hours, I am guessing because of the thinness of the fillets.  Below, finished.

The pellicle was pretty chewy (almost tough), but the flavor was amazing.  I may try lower temperature for longer next time.  Or - does anyone have any suggestions on how to NOT get a tough pellicle?  Maybe less fan time?  Below is the inside of it.  Seriously delicious!

I smoked it with the vent on top about half-way open, and didn't put water in the water pan.  Am I making any huge mistakes here? 

As always, thanks for any suggestions or guidance!



Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
Joined Apr 12, 2013
I think the length of time in the smoker causing it to dry contributed to the chewy outside. The brining will have dehydrated the flesh significantly and the prolonged smoking will have dried out the surface and the heat solidified the the surface oils and protein. As you say it is not unpalatable when this happens however it makes the texture a little strange when eating.

When I prepare my salmon fillets I usually give them an extended cold smoke before cooking them relatively quickly before serving


This gives them a lovely deep smoked flavour whilst keeping them moist throughout.

An alternative to the final period in the hot smoker/oven, if you have a vacuum packer, pack them in sous vide bags and freeze. 17 minutes in boiling water from frozen and they are lovely.


Meat Mopper
Joined Aug 5, 2013
Great post, Katie, thanks for sharing.  Salmon is on my list of things to try soon, these posts really help when trying something new.


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Apr 22, 2011
I'm thinking you may want to check the temperature of your smoker. That white goo on the surface of the fish is indicative of the temperature getting over 140˚. As for the tough pellicle, I've had that too, even with cold smoking. I'm thinking of brushing with a little olive oil before smoking to see if it helps.


Fire Starter
Thread starter
Joined Oct 25, 2013
Thanks, everyone!  Brushing with olive oil may help.  Today, I bought some steelhead trout fillets, and some rainbow trout fillets.  Next day off I have, into the smoker they go!



Smoke Blower
Joined Feb 24, 2013
Hey Katie. Good to see you have your first one under your belt. As I'm still perfecting this smoking thing myself, I realize that practice makes perfect. I would also suggest you check the accuracy of your smoker temp. The white stuff is fat that is cooked out of the flesh, which usually indicates the temp rising above 140.

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