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Monday, September 07, 2009

Yummy Yummy, In My Tummy!

What to do with all that Pink Salmon Katie and I caught? Hmm.. How about a smoke job!
Here it is 6am on my Labor Day Monday day off... I have just cut up 30 lbs. of salmon and it is now sitting in the brine for the next two hours, after that it gets rinsed off gently and then it all sits on racks for about an hour to get it's pellicle, which is a nice glaze on the fish and helps keep moisture in and the smoke also adheres well to it.
Then the smoking begins.
Last Saturday I smoked a batch of fish, about 20 lbs. worth. I ran into a problem though, as is often the case, I bit off more than I could chew!
I actually brined too much fish, so I called a neighbor and asked if I could borrow his smoker as well. He was happy to let me use it, it was just sitting there all lonesome. Besides, us fishermen know that when it comes to smoking fish, any help gets rewarded!
Well, Katie and I have so much fish, and I have my neighbors smoker, what's a guy to do? Haha!
Light some more on fire!
I had an idea, since I had two smokers I figured it would be fun to try smoking a batch using a different wood smoke. I normally use Hickory chips. I get great revues with my fish, but I have always heard that Alder or apple chips is great too. So I used Alder in one smoker and Hickory in the other.
Both turned out great, but I think I still am partial to the Hickory chips!

I thought I would write out the brine I use, it is not mine, I have been using it for years and always get positive results and many compliments on my smoked salmon. I am not bragging here, just letting you know that it is a great brine I found in a book many years ago.
I have changed a few things to my liking, for instance, the original recipe called for two cups salt, I cut that to one cup as I like my salmon less salty. I have also used fresh minced garlic instead of the listed garlic powder, but this is the beautiful thing about this brine. Use the basic formula and tweak it to your taste. Also, this is a wet brine, rather than a dry brine.
Here is the recipe I use today:
1 Cup Plain salt Non- Iodized
2 Cups Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder, or 2-3 Fresh Garlic Cloves
1/2 tsp. Wright's Liquid Smoke
1/2 tsp. Johnny's Seasoning Salt
4 Tbls. Molasses
1/2 Gallon of water
I usually double this recipe because I smoke more fish than can fit into this size container.
Another important factor about brining fish.
If you have frozen the fish prior to brining, you can cut down on the brine time considerably. The freezing of fish process dries out the fish, so that when you put previously frozen fish into the brine, it soaks up the brine more rapidly than fish that was never frozen. Thaw the frozen fish before brining.
I brine my previously frozen fish about two, to two and a half hours. The book says you can do it for as little as one and a half hours.
Sometimes I add more brown sugar, I like the sweetness brown sugar imparts to the fish and also I think it helps with the over all coloring of the finished product!
One other thing I like to do, as the fish is "resting" before smoking, I sprinkle Lemon pepper on the fish.
Some people smoke their fish with too many pan loads of wood chips, but fish will only absorb so much smoke, I usually only smoke the fish the first three hours or so, sometimes I will add a fourth pan of smoke if the fish is really thick. If you keep adding wood chips, all you really do is begin to add creosote to your fish.


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