It is not difficult to smoke fish and it does not take near as long as it does to smoke other meats like venison, beef, or even pork. Some of the best types of fish for smoking include trout, sturgeon, bluefish, and salmon. However, salmon is one of the most popular options for smoking.
After you have some large salmon pieces to start with, you are ready to start making a nice brine for it.
The brine is going to be an important part of smoking salmon. A basic brine should include water, brown sugar, salt, celery, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, and some fennel. This can all be mixed together and then put in a glass or a plastic container. Make sure it is cover and then it needs to be refrigerated.
After making the brine that you need, you will need to cure your salmon within the brine, which usually takes several hours. The curing takes place to help remove some of the moisture in the fish while making sure plenty of salt is infused inside the fish, helping to keep it preserved. You should cure the fish for a minimum of eight hours and for thicker salmon pieces, 24 hours is going to be the best idea. While it is important to make sure you cure it long enough, you do not want to overdo it, or you will end up with fish that is far too salty to eat.
Many people that try smoking for the first time forget to actually air dry the fish they are wanting to smoke. It is important that your cured, brined salmon is dried in a place that is breezy and cool. This helps a pellicle to form, which is basically a layer on top of your fish that is thin and it helps to seal off the fish and also provides a sticky surface, which allows the smoke to adhere to your salmon. This can be done by putting the brined salmon on a rack and allowing it to dry for a couple of hours.
Once you have allowed your salmon to dry, you are ready to smoke it. While you are using the hot smoking method, usually it is best to keep a smoking box at about 140 degrees for great smoking. Usually the temperature will begin rising as the process goes on.
One of the key things for good smoked salmon is using the right wood. Many people have their own favorites that they want to use. Most types of wood can be used, although pine is not recommended. There are resins in the pine that can lead to a bitter taste if you use it for smoking fish. Some of the common types of woods used for salmon smoking include oak, alder, apple, hickory, and other nut and fruit woods.
The amount of time for smoking can vary depending on how large your fish pieces are. Thinner fillets may only take an hour while big slabs of fish will take several hours. Meat should flake easily when it is done. After it has been fully smoked, it can be refrigerated for about 10 days or you can vacuum seal it and store in your freezer for 4-6 months time.
Smoking salmon is an excellent way to use this fish. Another option is to find baked salmon recipes to get all the health benefits this type of fish can offer. Other oven baked fish recipes are available so you can enjoy many other types of fish at home too.