Try one of these smoked salmon recipes if you want to add healthy and great tasting fish to your diet. There are two common methods of smoking salmon, with each offering variety in flavor and texture. Depending on your location, you'll have access to Atlantic salmon or one of the Pacific species of salmon.
Salmon can be cold smoked or hot smoked, dry brined or cured in a liquid brine. The salmon in the picture below was brined in liquid, flavored with herbs and spices, and cooked using the hot smoking method.
During the process of hot smoking , the salmon is cooked, reaching an internal temperature of 160 degrees. A better quality is achieved if the smoker gradually rises in temperature, bringing the salmon up to the final temperature slowly.
The Luhr Jensen Little Chief and Big Chief Smokers are great for smoking salmon. On a nice 70 degree day the internal temperature of these smokers will hover around 160 degrees...perfect for salmon. The temperature is controlled by a built-in, non-adjustable thermostat.
Cold smoking is done at a temperature of 80 degrees or less. Cold smoked salmon is cured, but not cooked, and can take up to three weeks to complete using some traditional methods.
The process requires many steps, including brining, drying, and smoking. Each of these steps can take a day or more to complete. Cold smoked salmon will take at least several days to finish.
The most difficult part about cold smoking is finding a suitable smoker. It usually requires some modification to the smoker to be able to keep the interior temperature of the smoke chamber at 80F or less. I've seen contraptions made out of cardboard boxes with clothes dryer vent hoses hooked up to smokers, designed as cooling chambers for the smoked before it enters the smoker. It can take a bit of creativity to cold smoke salmon.
Brining cures the salmon and adds flavor. The brining process can take one or two days to complete. The thicker the fish, the longer it takes to brine properly. Spices, herbs and other seasonings can be added to the brine to give the salmon the flavor you desire.
Marinating adds flavor without curing, and helps keep the salmon moist. Wine, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and fruit juices are just a sample of the marinating choices available. You can be as creative as you like with salmon marinades.
To create the best smoked salmon possible, you need to know what to look for when buying your fish. My page, Buying Salmon discusses the different species of salmon, their eating qualities, and ways to find the freshest salmon possible.
The West Coast of the United States is home to several species of wild salmon, including kings, cohos, sockeye, and chum salmon. Each have their unique attributes.
King salmon and sockeye are rich in oil, and the flesh is moist and flavorful. Chum salmon have much less oil, and are a bit drier in texture. Coho salmon are somewhere in between, and are preferred by those who don't care for extremely oily fish.
Give one of these smoked salmon recipes a try, and don't be afraid to do some experimentation. Add a different ingredient for more flavor, or extend the smoking time for a drier, smokier tasting salmon.