Sunday, November 02, 2008

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.

Here's a typical Chum salmon, this one was caught in Alaska. This one was about 17 lbs.

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".

Fillets ready for brining.

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.

Salmon jerky in the dry brine process.

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.

Everything on the racks, ready to smoke.

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.

The end result!

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!


At Sunday, November 02, 2008 1:49:00 PM, Blogger be603 said...

yer killin' me. Raised in WA, living "insane diego."

At Sunday, November 02, 2008 4:05:00 PM, Blogger David aka True Blue Sam said...

You're making me drool. There is no alder in the midwest, so hickory is the wood of choice for barbecuing and smoking.

At Monday, November 03, 2008 5:01:00 AM, Blogger Maria Verivaki said...

i would love to see the machine you smoke the salmon fillays in - i've never seen the whole process, and am curious...

At Tuesday, November 04, 2008 6:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cold-smoked fresh-caughtArtic Char when I was way up north in the Fox Basin in Northern Canada doing some work. I build a smoker out of a wooden crate and a hot plate and used the oak skids off the equipment crates. We carried coolers full of the stuff all over the country.


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