This tasty treat was sent to us by Dan Menard, his smoked salmon recipe receives rave reviews from everyone Dan is able to share it with. In the words of Dan himself “This recipe is a huge win!” he also says that its a tough rival to any of the top game processors in town. If you are new to fish smoking or are a seasoned vet, this recipe will surely satisfy!
Here’s what you need!
- 5-7 lbs. Salmon fillets
- 7c Medium to dark brown Sugar
- 2c Salt, I prefer non-iodized
- 1/3c Garlic Salt
- 1/3c Black Pepper
- 1/3c Cajun’s Choice Creole Seasoning
- 1/3c Red Pepper (optional)
- 2 c Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce
-Brine for 16-20 hours in the refrigerator.
-Rinse well and pat dry.
-While the fillets are still damp, add any additional spice (Cajun’s Choice, red pepper flakes etc.). This is where you can adjust the “heat” of the fish. Fillets should have air flow on both sides so I arrange them on the smoking racks and stick them on the chest freezer (Cover with newspaper or cardboard to minimize mess).
-Allow to dry 5 hours, 3 hours if drying with a fan. The drying part of the process builds a glaze on the fish, also known as the pellicle. The pellicle preserves the brine and oil inside the fish and allows the smoke to adhere. Drying time will vary depending on how long you let the fish sit in the brine, ambient air temps and thickness. I usually go until the surface of the fish has a visual glaze and is tacky to the touch.
-Using your smoker of choice, (I use a Bradley) smoke for 8 hours at 120° with 2-3 hours of wood. I smoke at the lowest possible temperature. At 130* or so internal temp, the albumin (water based protein) is pushed out and congeals, leading to a potentially dry result. I don’t have a cold smoke kit so the lowest I could get was about 136* with both the oven and smoker box running, 122* once the smoker box turned off. The key is to minimize the loss of albumin.
For this recipe, I used alder as my wood of choice.
Immediately after the smoke is finished, bag the salmon in gallon sized Ziplocs and refrigerate for 24 hours. This gives the fish time to rest, locking in oils and giving it that deep, smoky taste.
After a day in the fridge, package as desired.