My brother-in-law went fishing on the Kenai River this summer and brought home his limit of beautiful Kenai River Reds (sockeye). I have enough to keep me in salmon for the winter. My husband, on the other hand, really won't eat it. He said he ate more than his share growing up. There is one way he will eat it - smoked. I am amazed every time I make this, it is so easy.
My brother-in-law had all the fish filleted and vacuumed sealed in packages. They are beautiful. You can see the little pile of bones in the top right hand side of the picture. It is so important to take the 3 minutes it takes to pull those bones, you don't want anyone to get one caught in their throat!
Grab a pair of tweezers and pull them out one at a time, they are all in a row and you can feel them with your finger if you can't see them. In this fillet, the bones are easy to see and they were easy to pull.
Just a quick brine, you don't want to brine fish too long. Put it in the brine and then refrigerate.
Next is a hot smoke in the smoker (that part is Dave's job). During the smoking process I sweep a sweet and spicy baste on the fish and it is wonderful! I have smoked this in a cold smoker and then cooked it, but Dave has a hot smoker so it is all done in one step. It is a quick process 2 hours to brine, half an hour to dry out a little and we smoke for 2 hours, you can do it longer or shorter, depends on your smoky level preference.
I use this smoked fish to mix with a cream cheese to make a smooth dip, crumble and toss on pasta, but my favorite way to eat it is just as is, maybe with some crackers. I have made this for over 20 years and never get tired of it.
Sweet and Spicy Smoked Salmon:
3 quarts cold water
1 1/2 c salt
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1Tbsp. whole white peppercorns
6 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp. each whole allspice and whole cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 cloves garlic peeled and split
Stir water through garlic well until sugar and salt dissolve. Add fish and put in refrigerator for 2 hours. Rinse fish, rub gently to remove salt. Blot dry and let stand at room temp. 30 minutes until flesh feels tacky.
Put in smoker and brush with:
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground cayenne (optional)
brush every 20-30 minutes until gone.
November 7, Daylight 7 hours, 13 minutes, 30 sec. Current Temperature 11º F.