Monday, December 1, 2014

Brined & Smoked Salmon

Brined & Smoked Salmon
Serves: 2
Difficulty: Moderate
Plan ahead – overnight brine
Brined & Smoked Salmon
If you have never smoked fish – you are missing quite the taste treat.  Many grocers are now offering smoked fish, but it is easy and so much better if you do it yourself. There are a myriad of methods and foods to smoke– fish, meat, cheese, and vegetables – multiple opportunities to test your skills and enjoy the results. I have a stovetop smoker made by Cameron. But you can also use a BBQ, electric smokers or modify some foil pans for use on the stove or BBQ.  Give it a try – you will be happy you did! 
Stovetop smoker--don't forget to turn on the fan when you are done!

  • 3 C hot water
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 4 Tb kosher salt
  • Pinch grated lemon zest
  • 2 (4 oz) skin-on salmon fillets
  • Alder or hickory smoking chips
  • Olive oil - finishing 

In a medium bowl, combine very hot water, brown sugar, white sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Mix and dissolve the sugars. Let the liquid cool, adding a ice before adding fish if needed (use less water to start if you add ice).

Add salmon to the cooled marinade – skin side up, and be sure to submerge. Cover and refrigerate overnight. This curing process eliminates some of the moisture from inside the fish while at the same time infusing it with salt and sugar.

Remove salmon from brine, and discard brining liquid. Rinse fillet under cold water briefly to remove excess salt. Place salmon skin side down on a rack and allow it to air dry 1 - 3 hours. The salt in the brine will protect your fish, so don’t worry. Do not pat dry. This air-dry period causes a “pellicle” – which is a lacquer-like glaze on top of the fish that seals it and offers a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to. 
Brined, drying salmon ready for smoking
Place in smoker and follow manufacturer instructions. Basically, the goal is to have the wood smoke…so if you do it inside, then use your fan over the stove! If you use the BBQ, you might want to soak your wood chips in water first so that they smoke instead of catching fire. 
Smoker with chips
Smoke with alder, cherry or hickory chips (alder is classic for salmon). Temperatures of your smoker should be between 200 to 225 degree F (no higher). Smoke for 20-25 minutes, or until the flesh is firm to the touch and its edges are brown, crusty and caramelized. Salmon is an excellent smoking fish, as is bluefish, trout or sturgeon.
This is spectacular served with a green salad with apple vinaigrette…will post that one next week.  Look for it!


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