Smoked salmon is a favorite dish in many countries. Benefits of smoked salmon include: excellent source of protein, variety of uses, prolonged shelf life. Smoked salmon can be expensive, but did you know you can easily smoke salmon at home and save money? This article will explain how to make smoked salmon at home, how to serve smoked salmon in a variety of ways, and some common pitfalls to avoid.
The Right Fish
Salmon is an excellent choice for smoking because of its natural texture and beautiful color. Since it's a mild fish, it holds new flavors well, giving you a chance to play with recipes. Salmon can be savory, sweet, or a nice mix of both. Eaten alone as a snack, or flaked and served in pasta, rice, salads, and soups, it's a versatile addition to your kitchen.
Choose a good-quality salmon from a reputable source. Frozen works well, especially if you live in an area where fresh salmon is rare. Your cuts should be about 1/4 to 1/2 pound each, skin on. If all you can find is skinless, it should still work, but the skin adds stability to the salmon while being handled.
Best salmon for smoking:
• Coho Salmon
• Sockeye Salmon
• Chum Salmon
Other types can be used, but the three above have a great track record for the best end product. Avoid soggy, soft fish, or any that has an unusually strong or unpleasant smell. Buying frozen from Global Seafoods ensures your salmon is the very best.
Preparation is Key
Lay out your ingredients, tools, and instruction ahead of time. You'll need to decide if you want to do a wet brine or a dry one. Both are delicious, but this article explores the wet simple brine technique.
• Stock pot
• Large non-reactive container (glass or plastic), or several gallon ziplock bags
• Plastic wrap
• Cooling rack
• Paper towels
• Wood chips or sawdust for the smoker
*You can also smoke salmon in the oven, but this method is not recommended.
• 3 – 5 pounds salmon cut in 1Ž4 to 1Ž2 pound fillets
• 1 quart cool water
• 1 cup Kosher salt
• 1/2 cup brown sugar (dark is best, but any will do)
• 1/2 cup real maple syrup for basting (avoid fake syrup)
• 3 – 5 cups ice
In a large stock pot, bring all ingredients except the maple syrup and ice to a boil, stirring occasionally. You want to be sure the sugar and salt have dissolved. As soon as the brine boils, immediately remove from heat. Add all the ice and let the brine cool to room temperature.
While the brine is cooling, gently rinse your fillets in cool water, then pat dry with paper towels. Place clean fish in the non-reactive container (or ziplock bags). Once the brine is cool, carefully pour the brine into the container (or bags), making sure the fish is completely covered. If using bags, be sure to push out all the air when sealing. If using a bowl or other container, place plastic wrap over the top. Place your brine and fish in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours, but no more than 48.
After curing for at least 12 hours, rinse fish under cool, running water. Pat dry with paper towels, then place fish on the cooling rack, skin side down. Allow the salmon to dry for up to 4 hours. You want to develop a slightly sticky, shiny skin.
Place salmon pieces on the racks in your smoker so they are not touching. There is some debate on how long to smoke salmon and at what temperature because every smoker is different. We suggest starting at 120°F and checking on your salmon after 2 hours. Baste the fish with the maple syrup at this time. Up the temperature to 140°F for another 2 hours, and then to 175°F to finish. Total time should be about 6 hours, but some thicker pieces could take longer.
Cool your smoked salmon, then wrap in plastic wrap. You can store this in the freezer for up to a year.
Are you ready to try making your own smoked salmon at home? We have many options to buy salmon online at Global Seafoods, at a great price, and our products are guaranteed.
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