What Type Of Salmon To Smoke

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2011
My In-Laws have tasked me for smoked salmon for Christmas Eve.  It's probably been 5 or 6 years since I've done salmon.  Back then, I used a Brinkman (bullit) smoker with pretty good results.   I now have a 30" MES, but I've never done fish in it before.  The person who gave me tips long ago, said Coho or any other cheaper salmon is good because they have more oil in the meat=better smoked product.  In my local grocery store, I see Atlantic salmon on sale and I have no idea what that is like to smoke.  Also, anyone living here in the northwest (Washington State) have any tips using a MES for fish.  Thanks in advance.
Hi Michael. I use the cheaper cuts of salmon (pink for example) just because they are fine for smoking and give a good result. I save the sockeye and chinook for non smoked dishes. I don't have an MES but I do use a Bradley which is somewhat similar.

You have to decide how you like your smoked salmon. The traditional smoked salmon I grew up with was smoked to a quite dry state. Bearcarver did a good post on that and I did my version. Here are the links:



Many people prefer a moister smoked salmon. I have made a peppered salmon for years and recently did it in the Bradley to good reviews. It can be served hot as an entree or cold as a smoked salmon appetizer. The link is:


There are many other good posts of smoked salmon in the forums too.

I, like Disco, save the more expensive cuts for savory eating..... If you can get "kita" which is chum/dog.... it is far superior to atlantic salmon... It's diet is very similar to that of sockeye... Kippered, chum is pretty darn good.... My skipper, from my younger days fishing SE Alaska, brings me about 100 #'s of chum every winter.... it gets canned and smoked... should be here in the next few weeks.... out comes the 2 pressure canners and the dedicated fish smoker.....
Below is a thread on trout.... I use the same recipe and method for salmon... Fresh "Kita" should be hitting the markets very soon.... It's a fall salmon here in the NW...

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I just use the Salmon my Son brings me, and they're on their Spawning Run, however they aren't in bad shape because they don't run very far up the Salmon River in NY.

I saw pictures from other places in the country where the Salmon are actually falling apart when they catch them. If you can catch them in a lake, like Ontario, they're really nice.

I'm here in WA state, too.   I tend to try to avoid farm raised salmon. 

I really like Steelhead, too, which is a trout but it looks and tastes like salmon and is half the price.

I like them all to finish a bit on the moist side.  I have tried them with and without the water tray and I like it WITH the water better.

I make a cure using 1 cup kosher salt, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp lemon pepper, and 1 tbsp dill weed.

cover the bottom of a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan with a thin layer of cure.  Wash the fish in cold water and pat dry. place them skin side down and then cover them with the rest of the cure.  Let them sit for 4 - 6 hours before taking them out of the cure and smoking them.  The cure will suck a bunch of the liquid out and that's normal.

I like to quickly re-rinse them and pat dry again after taking them out of the cure to get a little more of the salt off.  Then I'll sprinkle them with lemon pepper, dill weed, a little garlic powder and onion powder.  If I have a lemon, I'll squirt a little lemon juice and scrape up a bit of lemon zest on them too.

Into my MES at 220 for an hour and a half (cherry or pecan wood) and it's perfect.

Here's a thread showing my first try at this.  I've done it a dozen or so times since and love it.


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