Processing season is upon us, and we’re in full juggling mode. The goal is to turn chrome-bright, fat-laden king salmon (above) into our favorite foods. I think it’s tossup for all of us between hot-smoked salmon and ikura salmon caviar. Of course, we also love it salted and fresh on the grill, and the leftovers in sandwiches. But for now, especially with these summer kings, which have less fat than the spring fish, we’re staying focused on smoking, salting and preserving.
This is the shop fridge holding a combination of pre- and post-brined salmon strips and chunks, along with two bins of brine. For our taste, we like a liquid brine made from 2/3 cup coarse Kosher salt, 1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar for every 9 cups of water. This year, in an effort to speed up our processing, I’m drying the brined salmon for 5 hours with a box fan blowing directly over the fish, then hot smoking at 205 degrees for about 7 hours. Results are delicious.
And here’s another batch of ikura, separated from the membrane using hardware cloth, and just starting to cure with 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1 tsp soy sauce and 1-1/2 tsp sake per 2 cups of eggs. Three days in the fridge to cure, then, if there’s any left, we put it in jars and freeze. But mostly it’s eaten up right away, on steamed rice, on crackers with cream cheese, or in Skyla’s case, by the spoonful. At the rate we’re mowing through the processed goods, we’re going to need more fish and more processing if we want any for winter. I think we’re up for it.