Friday, December 02, 2005

D. & D.'s Smoked Salmon - 2005

Dale and Diane entered this smoked salmon in the Fishin' Club's annual Smoked Salmon contest at our last meeting.

Not only did they win, but this is the second year in a row that they have won, and this is a club full of salmon fishermen, all of whom have their own favorite smoked salmon recipes, in short, a REALLY tough bunch of judges.

There's a lot to doing a gourmet smoked salmon like this, but boy is it good!


Mini- Chief electric smoker
Alder and cherry chips
Non-reactive container for marinating


3 to 4 lbs skinless, boneless salmon fillets


2 cups soy sauce
1 cup water
1 cup dry Japanese sake
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder


1 whole star anise
1 Tbs. whole coriander seeds
4 whole allspice berries
1 stick cinnamon - broken in pieces
2 Tbs. black peppercorns

Finely grind spices in a spice mill (I use a clean coffee grinder). Add to marinade and mix well in the marinating container. Cut across salmon fillet to get 2 to 3 inch wide chunks. Marinate salmon chunks for at least 12 hours, turning several times to marinate evenly. Keep refrigerated.

Spray smoker racks and drip pan with cooking spray before loading the marinated salmon chunks. Put the thicker pieces on the lower racks. Strain marinade to collect remaining spices and distribute these spices on the salmon chunks. Air dry the salmon on the racks until the surface dulls and no longer looks wet, approximately 60 minutes.

Pre-heat the smoker for 30 minutes with the empty flavor pan in place before starting the following smoking sequence:

START: Place filled racks into the preheated smoker and fill flavor pan with alder chips.

At 1 Hour: Dump ashes from flavor pan and re-fill with alder chips.

At 2 Hours: Dump ashes from flavor pan and re-fill with cherry chips.

At 3 Hours: Dump ashes from flavor pan and put empty pan back into the smoker.

At 4 Hours: Smoked salmon may be removed from smoker. At this point, the salmon will be quite moist in the thickest parts. Additional time in the smoker will produce a firmer, dryer texture. One additional hour in the smoker (5 hours total elapsed time) was given to the salmon entered in the Fishin' Club contest.

Wasabi Dipping Sauce (Optional)

2 to 3 Tbs. Wasabi powder (to taste)
3 Tbs. soy sauce
3 Tbs. water
4 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. honey.

Stir ingredients together in a small nonreactive bowl. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving, or cover and refrigerate until use.

A couple of quick notes:

If your salmon smells fishy, it won't taste right smoked. Smoked bad salmon is still bad salmon. You can't "fix" bad salmon by smoking it. If it smells fishy, use it in a crab trap or something, and go get some good salmon.

Luhr-Jensen makes three different smokers, the Big Chief, the Little Chief, and the Mini Chief. They are a good product, made in the good old USA, and available, along with the chips, at Walmart.

The Mini Chief uses the same heating element as the Little Chief, so it gets a little hotter, and smokes a little faster. If you use a Little Chief, you may want to extend your times a bit. Air temperature and humidity will also have a large effect on smoking times.

It's not a bad idea to put the smoked salmon in a regular oven at 165 degrees for about 20 minutes, to kill any unwanted bacteria. You would want to allow for the additional cooking and drying this would produce.


At Saturday, December 03, 2005 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds good, I'll have to try it. I've been using a Luhr-Jensen Little Chef (the same one!) for almost 30 years. It's out-dated, as a top loader, but still works reliably.

Here a tip for using the Luhr-Jensen smokers: save the original box, intact (make sure you don't damage it when you open it). You can make the smoker operate much hotter (up to a little over 300 degrees) by simply inverting the box over the operating smoker, and leaving one of the top flaps open to let the smoke out. There is little danger of fire, since the only thing that could start a fire is the element, which is deep inside the smoker and never contacts the cardboard.

Recipe: smoking anything INDOORS.


Meat to be smoked (I've done poultry, beef, venison, elk and fish)

Morton's Tender Quick, found on the bottom shelf of the spice display in your market, or ask for it.

Wright's Liquid Smoke, or other liquid smoke that you can buy cheaper. Found in the BBQ sauce section usually.

Pam or similar cooking oil spray.

Oven pans


Glass, plastic or other non-metallic bowl. Make sure you haven't gotten a cheap bowl from south of the border, where they use lead-based glazes when they fire their ceramic bowls.

Collander, also non-metallic or a metal one with a fired-on coating.



Take meat to be smoked and trim all fat off, then cut into form that you want to have it ready at. Some forms are rope, flake or chunk.

Rope meat is done by reducing the meat to a steak of about 1/2" thickness, then cutting a spiral around the steak until it is all cut into a 1/2 X 1/2 X whatever length rope.

Flake is done with a slicer, and a deli-style electric one is best. Cool the meat until it is just starting to freeze, then bring it out and rough-cut it to 1 1/2 times the size you want in your finished chunks (to allow for shrinkage). Then run those chunks thru your slicer or manually slice them.

Chunk is done by cutting the meat into bite-size chunks, usually an inch or so cubic.

Now, take the Morton's Tender Quick and make a brine with it according to the instructions. Put the meat into the bowl and cover with an equal volume of brine. Put in fridge to retard spoilage whilst brining. Not all dangerous organisms are killed by brining, so you need refrigeration. Take the bowl out every couple of hours and turn or stir the contents. You can brine for as little as an hour to as much as 12 hours, depends on your taste in saltiness. You may also add brown sugar if you like your jerky to come out sweet AND smoky. Ditto with adding hot sauce for THAT effect. Ditto with garlic powder. I don't add any extras for my taste, I want to taste MEAT and SMOKE only.

After the brining is done, dump the brine and strain the contents of the brining bowl thru a collander (if you use your wife's only collander, pack your gear, you'll be leaving shortly).

Wash the bowl and prepare to "smoke".

Take the Wright's Liquid Smoke (or other brand, Wright's was first and I've always used it, and Wright's can be purchased in pint bottles) and pour a pint into the glass/plastic bowl. Note that Wright's has alcohol in it, so your bowl needs to be made of a grade of material that will withstand it.

Put the meat into the bowl and smoosh it around frequently for an hour so that all sides of all the meat pieces get coated. Remove meat from bowl and strain in that collander again. Throw out the liquid smoke from this operation.

Fire up your oven at 250 degrees. While it's heating up, take oven pans and spray them with Pam or wipe down with Wesson Oil. Arrange meat on pans. Put in oven and cook/dry until the meat reaches the right consistency. Time will vary depending on how thick you've cut the meat. Flake takes a short time, maybe 1 hour, but one inch chunks might take 3 hours. Test-taste frequently as the meat finishes so you don't over-dry it.

Remove from oven, cool, and bag in small Ziploc baggies. This smoked meat will keep for several days unrefrigerated, as on a hunting or fishing trip, but not forever, so keep it refrigerated until you depart on your expedition.

Smoking without the smoke, recipe by..



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