HOW TO SMOKE SALMON STEP BY STEP In 2020

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I smoke a lot of salmon, and I am proud of this recipe, although it would be the height of arrogance to say that what I do is the end-all, be-all of salmon smoking recipes. Lots of people smoke their salmon in lots of ways, and many of them are good. But I’ve been smoking fish for many years, and I’ve developed a system that works well

Keep in mind this is a hot-smoking recipe. Cold smoking, which is the kind of slice-able smoked fish you get in fancy boxes from Scotland is an entirely different thing

Almost everyone in Salmon Country hot smokes their fish. If you’re unfamiliar with hot-smoked fish, think about those golden smoked whitefish you see in delicatessens; those are hot smoked

How do you eat it? Well, you can just eat it plain, or you can flake it and make it into a smoked salmon salad, you can pound it with butter and make salmon rillettes, serve it in deviled eggs, tossed with pasta… you get the point

A smoker.

I’ve used a Traeger and a Bradley. Both are good. No matter what smoker you use, you will need to be able to a) know your smoking chamber’s temperature, and b) control the heat, at least in a rough sense

Wood.

The only downside to a Traeger smoker is that you need to use their wood pellets. As a guy who used a Brinkmann wood-fired BBQ for years, fueling it with scraps of almond and other fruit woods, buying wood can be annoying, but you get better precision with this method. I prefer to use alder wood for my salmon, but apple, cherry, oak or maple work fine

Salt.

Buy a box of kosher salt from the supermarket. Do not use regular table salt, as it contains iodide and anti-caking agents that will give your salmon an “off” flavor. I use Diamond Crystal, which is cut finer than Morton’s

Something sweet

 — salmon loves sweets. I prefer to sweeten my smoked salmon with birch syrup; It’s just like maple syrup, only tapped from birch trees instead. Super cool stuff. But maple syrup is just as good. Just use real maple syrup, OK? Not the imitation crap. Honey works, too

A large plastic container

Buy the big, flat ones from the supermarket. They stack easily in a normal fridge, so you can have two different brines going. And they clean easily and are pretty cheap

A wire rack. You need to rest your brined fish on a rack with plenty of air circulation to form the all-important pellicle (more on that in a bit), and you will use it to rest the smoked fish before storing it

A basting brush. You probably already have this in your kitchen, but if not, pick one up. Get the flat kind, like you use to paint detail on window trim.

When you are ready to start, you will need smallish pieces of salmon about 1/4 to 1/2 pound each. Any salmonid fish will work with this recipe. I’ve done it with king salmon, sockeye, coho, and pink salmon, dolly varden, plus kokanee, steelhead and Lahontan trout

There is no reason it would not work with chum salmon or any other char or trout species. And yes, it works with farmed Atlantic salmon, but I never eat the stuff