Hot Smoked Salmon

There have been many times that I have walked past the meat counter and saw a huge Salmon filet in the case and thought, I could smoke that and it would be amazing.  But for some reason I never have, until now. 

Yesterday I was shopping for lamb for Mandy's Birthday Lamb 2 Ways and saw a slab of fresh Keta Salmon in the case.  Keta is one of the most abundant types of Salmon harvested in the NW. While it doesn't get the recognition of King or other Salmon, it is extremely mild and tasty.  I didn't have anything planned for smoking so I figured, what the heck, I'll give it a shot.....  When I woke up this morning I started looking for a marinade that would be good on the salmon but not overpower it.  Low and behold all of the recipes call for marinading the Salmon overnight for 24hrs before drying it, and then smoking it..... Well I don't have 24hrs because it is Sunday already....  So I found a mixture that I liked and put it together.  I prepped the Salmon by pulling out the pin bones. Take the time to do this, it is worth it, and those that are eating it will appreciate it.

Once the Salmon was ready I put it in a vacuum bag with the marinade, sealed it, and put it in the fridge for about 5hrs while we took care of some things around the house.  When I was ready I pulled the bag out of the fridge drained the marinade, patted the Salmon dry and let it set on a rack for about an hour lightly coated in a paper towel so it could dry out.  I also started the smoker and let it get up to 200 degrees. 

I put the Salmon on parchment paper before I put it in the smoker because I didn't want to have to fight to get it off of the rack when I was done smoking it.  After the first hour I used a brush to remove the white protein build up that likes to ooze out of salmon as it cooks and then brushed on a light coat of maple syrup.  I closed the lid for another hour, repeated, and pulled it off of the smoker to cool. 

This method is considered hot smoking, it is not the same as cold smoking and the consistency of your salmon will not be the same.  It will be more flaky, but no less tasty than cold smoked salmon. For us in California, cold smoking is pretty much relegated to the winter months at night to prevent the temperature of the smoker from exceeding 86 degrees.  Anything over 100 degrees is considered hot smoking. 

For my marinade, I mixed 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of maple syrup, 1/4 cup of kosher salt, and 1/2 cup of water and mixed it up until it was smooth.  As a helpful hint buy a pair of needle nose pliers to keep in the kitchen for pulling out the pin bones if you plan on cooking salmon.  It will save a lot of time and not tear up the meat as you pull out the bones.  My biggest lesson learned is start it the day before in a marinade to allow it maximum soaking time!

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