If you have tried smoked salmon, maybe in a restaurant, or you have prepared it yourself, then you would know that it is a delicious treat. It’s hard not to order it when a restaurant has it on its menu.
Most people think that they have to go to a restaurant to enjoy this exquisite luxury. However, this is not true. You can easily prepare a good-tasting smoked salmon in no time. All you have to do is pay a little attention to details.
It all comes down to getting the right balance between the salt, the smoke, a little sweetness, and a salmon’s flavor. Achieving this balance is the key to preparing a treat that would earn you the title of a world-class chef. You will not only be proud of yourself when you do get it right, but you will also want to share with your friends and family and use your smoked salmon for other dishes.
If you have a high-quality salmon already, then do not overcook. In just a few hours, you can prepare tasty smoked salmon.
- Brine: it is a mixture of brown sugar and kosher salt
- Pick the right wood that goes well with your salmon.
- For the most crucial part: Don’t overcook your salmon. The Important temperatures are 140 °F final internal temperature and 225 °F in the smoker. Any temperature greater than these would probably cause your salmon to dry out.
What Type of Salmon to Use
If wild-caught salmon is in season, then it is the right one to use. However, fresh frozen wild salmon is still great if wild salmon is out of season. All you have to do is slowly thaw the frozen salmon in the refrigerator before using it.
Make sure you use the entire filet instead of half of the fish or individual portions. Using the whole filet makes things simple when handling and ensures the salmon remains moist as it cooks.
Prepping the Salmon
You don’t need much to prepare a salmon for smoking. An important thing to do to get it prepared is to remove any pin bones in the filet. To remove the bones, you will need to use a pair of fish bone tweezers. Begin at the tail end, pulling out the bones as you work towards the head end. Wipe any liquid off the fillets with paper towels, then apply the dry brine
Brining the Salmon
If you want your smoked salmon to have a tasty flavor, then you need to brine it. You only need kosher salt and brown sugar to prepare the dry brine.
You don’t have to bother about brining the skin side because it is a waterproof layer, and the brine can’t penetrate it. Make sure you don’t add too much salt since you won’t be rinsing the brine.
The function of the brine is to preserve the salmon, so after smoking, it lasts longer. It also helps to intensify the flavor of your smoked salmon and pull out some moisture.
The function of the sugar is to balance out the flavors by adding a hint of sweetness.
Smoking the Salmon
Smoking your salmon can seem complicated because of all the theories out there. However, we have simplified it into three significant steps.
- The first step is to brine your salmon using a brine containing brown sugar and kosher salt in a ratio of two to one for about 1-2hours, using paper towels to wipe the excess liquid.
- Prepare the smoker with alder wood chips or any other appropriate wood to a temperature of 225 °F.
- Lie the skin side of the salmon down on a piece of foil. Then place on the smoker. Allow the salmon to smoke until the internal temperature gets to 140 °F
Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then enjoy.
Best Wood for Smoking Salmon
The best wood that can give your salmon the best mild flavor is Alder wood. However, cherry or applewood can also work. Alder trees are found naturally in the Pacific Northwest, mainly beside the Copper River in Alaska.
Ensure the wood chips are tiny and not in chunks if you are smoking your salmon over charcoal.
It is best to avoid woods like hickory, Mesquite, and other woods that will give your salmon a strong flavor.
Soak your wood chips in water for 20-30 minutes. Soaking the wood for smoking your salmon in water is vital in getting the flavor you want. Doing so makes the wood chips produce a milder smoke and keep the temperature down.
How Long to Smoke Salmon?
To properly smoke a 2-4 pound of salmon at 225 °F, you will have to leave it smoking for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Certain factors determine the time required to get your salmon smoked, and they include the thickness and fat content of the salmon, the smoker’s temperature, and the filet’s thickness.
Can smoked salmon be frozen?
Yes, it can be frozen. However, it depends on how you freeze it. Ensure freezing will not impact the texture and flavor of the smoked salmon.
Only defrost slowly in a refrigerator and not in a microwave.
How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?
Properly smoked salmon can last for up to a week in a refrigerator after smoking or if you brought home a freshly smoked salmon.
How much smoked salmon per person?
A person can eat a minimum of 4 ounces or ¼ pound. Lox lovers will probably eat more, particularly after a long fast. So you can still get as much as 6 ounces per person or more if you can afford it.
What is the difference between Lox, Smoked Salmon, and Gravlax?
Smoked salmon, as you have seen above, refers to smoked salmon. It is usually brined with a mixture of kosher salt and brown sugar.
Lox means the fish is salt-cured to draw out the moisture of the fish. The salt is usually mixed with spices, herbs, sugar, citrus zest.
Gravlax, just like lux, is not smoked; it is only cured. The traditional preparation method involves curing with a mixture of salt, lots of dills, and sugar. The mixture can also contain extra spices like juniper berries, citrus, coriander, and more.
What is the Best wood for smoking salmon?
Alder is the best wood for smoking salmon. It is a local tree species in the Pacific Northwest. You can also use apple and oak. However, keep away from Mesquite and hickory woods.