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Thread: First Time Salmon Smoke

  1. #1
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    First Time Salmon Smoke

    Well, it finally got cool enough here in sunny Arizona to take my first stab at smoking a nice sockeye salmon filet.

    Big shout out to Jim Lampe for giving me the idea on how to control my temp below 200F; my target was 150-160F and getting that consistent on a WSM was a concern for me. His post on bacon showed me the snake method as the best possible approach. The photo below shows the initial setup on my 18.5; in the end I added another coal on top of the chain to get my temp up to 160. Apple wood splits:
    [IMG][/IMG]
    I brined the salmon overnight using a 4/1 ratio of brown sugar to salt. Target was 12-14 hours, but after 16 hours it was still not what I'd consider perfectly cured; most videos that I'd seen had the cured salmon come out pretty stiff. Mine was still a bit flexible. Next time I'll probably up the salt a bit; maybe 3/1 ratio. After the brine and before the smoker:
    [IMG][/IMG]
    As noted above, the smoke started out slow and I had to add a little more coal on the chain to get up to target temp, but then I ran 160-180 for the next 6 hours without a hitch. I was really trying to avoid anything over 200F since I'd seen many videos and all of them running hotter temps has the pellicle bust and the oils leak out. The final product after a brush of honey and some cracked black pepper;
    [IMG][/IMG]
    Amazing, moist, and delicious. I'll be doing this again VERY soon!
    WSM 18.5, Cajun Bandit SS Door, Inkbird IRF-4S, Kizen Instant Thermometer

  2. #2
    TVWBB Hall of Fame Timothy F. Lewis's Avatar
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    Looks great!
    I was in Milwaukee for a visit and cruised by Jim’s place but, missed him.
    Didn’t want to appear like I was casing the place so, I just gave the P1Gvillion a peek and I very much like the compact nature of that grilling gazebo! I want to do the same kind of thing but, my wife might not quite “understand the need”.
    I’ll work on it a little.
    Distinguebant Sed, Ignoret In Particulari!
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease too big a skillet!" J. D. Clampett

  3. #3
    TVWBB 1-Star Olympian Cliff Bartlett's Avatar
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    Those are gorgeous fillets K. The snake is the way to go for smoking below 200. Bet that finished salmon won't last long. I love smoking salmon but getting fish that quality is hit and miss around here.
    Weber OTG 26.3/4" Kettle, Weber Silver 22 1/2 " Kettle (2), Blue Performer, Jumbo Joe, Smokey Joe (49er Edition), WSM 22 1/2 ", WSM 18 1/2, WSM 14 1/2"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Bartlett View Post
    Those are gorgeous fillets K. The snake is the way to go for smoking below 200. Bet that finished salmon won't last long. I love smoking salmon but getting fish that quality is hit and miss around here.
    Believe it or not, that was Costco.

    But I do think the fact that pretty much any Costco fish was previously frozen means that they hold extra water. That is likely why I had a tough time getting a 100% cure on it; the excess water drawn out probably watered down the salt enough to slow the process. Next time I’ll use more dry brine and up the salt a little.

    Now I need to find a local place where I can get truly FRESH salmon...but I have no complaints about the Costco filet!
    WSM 18.5, Cajun Bandit SS Door, Inkbird IRF-4S, Kizen Instant Thermometer

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    TVWBB Fan MikeS in Alaska's Avatar
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    Looks great.

    How long if any did you air dry it to set the pellicle ?
    Smokin' away in AK
    22" Red Kettle 2x18.5" Smokey Mountain Genesis Silver B Green

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    TVWBB Guru CaseT's Avatar
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    Looks tasty.

    I wouldn't up your salt content the 4:1 ratio is really perfect.

    I use frozen salmon almost 110% of the time now since I'm not in the fishing industry anymore. Also I don't brine for longer than 8 hours. You really need to pack the brine in. I put a good 1/2" layer below the fillet, then a good 1/2" on top (or between layers if stacking), of course if stacking top off the top with more brine.

    Once out of the brine rinse well and set out to air dry. This is when it will really firm up. With a fan it can take 2-4 hours. Without It can take longer.

    I've been using this same method for close to 40 years now. Haven't found a better method to replace it with, and I've tried.
    14.5" WSM, (4) Mini-wsms, Mini-Za Oven, Minitisserie, GOSM Big Block, 1967 Casa Q

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS in Alaska View Post
    Looks great.

    How long if any did you air dry it to set the pellicle ?
    I air-dried it only about 1.5 hours. No fan. But the pellicle was set and only slightly tacky to the touch.
    WSM 18.5, Cajun Bandit SS Door, Inkbird IRF-4S, Kizen Instant Thermometer

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaseT View Post
    Looks tasty.

    I wouldn't up your salt content the 4:1 ratio is really perfect.

    I use frozen salmon almost 110% of the time now since I'm not in the fishing industry anymore. Also I don't brine for longer than 8 hours. You really need to pack the brine in. I put a good 1/2" layer below the fillet, then a good 1/2" on top (or between layers if stacking), of course if stacking top off the top with more brine.

    Once out of the brine rinse well and set out to air dry. This is when it will really firm up. With a fan it can take 2-4 hours. Without It can take longer.

    I've been using this same method for close to 40 years now. Haven't found a better method to replace it with, and I've tried.
    Agreed...after my wife and I enjoyed our smoked salmon lunch, I came to the same conclusion. The flavor is great, so more salt would not be a good idea. And I will definitely pack that dry brine next time so it stays submerged once the water is drawn out.
    WSM 18.5, Cajun Bandit SS Door, Inkbird IRF-4S, Kizen Instant Thermometer

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