Homemade Smoked Salmon

I really dislike smoked salmon.  However, my wife loves it nearly as much as she loves me (quite a bit… I don’t want to give the wrong impression!).  Now that we have a smoker I decided to see if I could recreate her favorite “Salmon Candy” that she used to get at Whole Foods in NYC.  After doing some research online, I decided to dive in and give it a try.  The end result was impressive and she absolutely loved it.  Hooray for the good husband!

Step 1:  Brine the fish.

I looked around the web for a brine recipe that would recreate the flavor of Salmon Candy, and couldn’t find anything.  I put together the following for 1.5 pounds of salmon:

5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Qt. COLD water
2 oz Kosher salt
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3-4 Tbsp Tamari

Once the salt and sugar were dissolved, I dropped in the fish and covered the whole container.

Step 2:  Let sit overnight.  For a saltier fish, brine for 24 hours, but LESS THAN 48!!

Step 3:  Air dry the fish on a rack in an area below 70F.  I put it in front of the air conditioner vent to ensure this was the case.  Dry for two hours so the pellicle forms.  Due to the brine, the fish will be OK at this temperature.

Step 4:  About an hour before the fish is done drying, start soaking the wood.  In this case I used Alder wood.

Step 5:  About 20 minutes before the fish is dry, start the smoker, load the box, and get the heat up to about 200F.

Step 6:  After 2 hours (don’t go past 2 hours), place the fish in the smoker and smoke the fish at the lowest temperature possible.  Ideally 160F, but I can’t get mine to go lower than 180F.  At the higher temperatures the fish “sweats”, which is what you DON’T want.  Be sure to sop up any “sweat” (aka, fat) with a paper towel every 10 minutes or so.  Once the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145F I turn off the smoker and moved them to a rack to cool, and then covered and refrigerated.

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