Smoke 'em if You Got 'em
Next Thursday is the Fishin' Club's Smoked Salmon Derby, where club members smoke up salmon fillets using their own secret recipes, herbs, and spices, and take them to the club meeting for judging by the members. For this year's derby I decided to smoke up two versions, and I also smoked up a good sized batch of salmon jerky. One version was a sweet, slightly salty and slightly hot recipe, and the second version was more of a soy sauce and sweet style.
I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to go catch a couple of fish for the Derby, so I took the next best route. A fellow I know is a commercial salmon fisherman and when the fish are running you can sometimes buy a few fish from him directly off the boat. He knows how to take care of his fish when he catches them, bleeding them and icing them down immediately, and keeping them on ice until you buy them.
For smoking I like the Chum salmon as they produce good sized fillets and are very mild flavored, although any salmon will smoke well. This year KeeWee is going to try a "Wet Brine" style of smoked salmon for the Derby, where you marinate the fillets for 12 hours. Watch her blog for a post in the next few days.
The first step is to fillet the fish into smoker sized pieces. I use a Big Chief electric smoker, and it will handle fairly large fillets. By the way, in this part of the world if you pronounce it "fill-it" we know you aren't from around here! It's pronounced "fill-lay".
For my jerky recipe I also skin the fillets and remove all the fatty parts. It's very time consuming, but the results are worth it! For full information on my smoked salmon, salmon Jerky and dry brining, click here.
Dry brining is a really quick process. Typically you cover the fillets with rock salt for 10 to 20 minutes, then was them off, let them dry a bit, and put them into the smoker. You can add soy sauce, Teriaki sauce, of whatever you like, in the dry brining step. After the fillets have been dry brined and have dried a bit I like to sprinkle on a little brown sugar before they go into the smoker.
I use only alder chips for salmon, as anything other than alder on salmon is a felony, or at least it SHOULD be....
I like to keep constant smoke going for at least the first several hours. I smoked this batch for almost 12 hours, although I started to pull out some of the thinner jerky strips after 6 or 7 hours. Most of them smoked the entire time.
How did it turn out? Wonderful!!
Here's a post on my basic smoking methods, and here's another post about the methods used to win two or three of the previous Smoked Salmon Derbies.
These methods also work well on trout and other fish, so give them a try!