Salmon Smoking

It’s been a little crazy this week with an 86-person family reunion here on the Island  (tons of fun) and opening the farm (tons of fun and tons of work). Plus, the farm mower blew up and I had to cut the grass with the tractor, which involved mowing half the field going backwards. (The tractor can’t make the turns around the rows very easily with the mower attached.) So we’ve had our hands full.

But I did manage to squeeze in a batch of smoked king salmon. The picture above is the “before,” when the fish has just come out of an overnight brine. My smoker holds about two medium-size kings (cut into strips) and I brine them in two large plastic bins. Here’s the recipe we like, if anyone’s interested: I put 9 cups of water, 2/3 cup kosher salt and 1.5 cups of brown sugar in each bin, then add half the salmon strips. After an overnight soak, the fish is rinsed and put on racks to dry with a fan blowing over it for about two hours.

This is the “after,” just as the fish came out of 11 hours in the smoker. I like alder, apple or vine maple for the wood. This batch was a mix of alder and apple, and I think it turned out pretty good. I was going to vac-seal and freeze at least half the batch, but the kids (okay, and me) have been eating it non-stop, and now…it’s already almost gone. Guess we have to go catch some more fish and crank up the smoker again.

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4 Comments on “Salmon Smoking”

  1. That looks terrific. I was wondering what sort of smoker you’re using and how you’re able to get away with an 11 hour smoke with fish? I assume that you’re keeping the temperature down in the “below 200” range, and it seems like it would be tricky to keep a kamado or similar smoker stable at that temp for that long.

    Almost finished “Closer to the Ground” and have really enjoyed it, by the way.

    • dylantomine says:

      Michael–
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m happy you enjoyed the book.
      As for the salmon, you are right on the temps. I use a Mastercraft digital/electric smoker and start at 145 degrees then slowly ramp it up to a max of about 175 or 180 to finish it at the end. Main issue is that the smoker is too well insulated, so the burner isn’t on enough at those thermostat settings to generate smoke.
      So I had to employ an A-MAZE-N smoke generator, which works great. Low-tech, high success gizmo that requires no electricity or anything. I also use it with the smoker unplugged for cold smoking stuff like the duck prosciutto I’m working on now. Hope that helps.
      –Dylan

      • Thanks very much. I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to cold smoke in my kamado, and that A-MAZE-N looks like it may be just the ticket. My son and I love duck prosciutto, and we might be giving that a try, too. Looking forward to your next book.

        -Mike

      • dylantomine says:

        The A-Maze-N does indeed do the trick. It produces lots of smoke but almost no heat. One drawback is you have to use their sawdust, but it isn’t that expensive and one bag goes a long way. Perfect for cold smoked salmon, cheese, bacon or anything else you want to smoke without heat.

        The duck “prosciutto” I suppose no longer qualifies as prosciutto, since I did add a bit of smoke to it. But I’m hoping it will help keep mold from forming during the hanging process, and taste good, too. I’m still a couple days out from sampling, but man, the smell really does make my mouth water every time I check on it.


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