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Smoking Fish Filets, Is it worth it?

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Post Thu May 08, 2008 3:28 pm
rdub medium
medium

Posts: 132
Never tried it but now that I have a smoker I can't seem to bring myself to cook with any other method. How long would it take to smoke a couple good size pieces of salmon? Is it too much of an ordeal? Does the fish take on a good smoke flavor? How tender and flaky does it get? Suggested wood?

Post Thu May 08, 2008 3:55 pm
Kenny 13 well done
well done

Posts: 4051
Location: Belle Chasse, LA
I've never smoked fish but I've been wanting to try. I've heard from quite a few people who say smoked salmon is fantastic. I'd give it a shot if I were you.
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Post Thu May 08, 2008 3:55 pm
rogerja well done
well done

Posts: 2288
Location: Central Ohio
Whole filet are very good smoked. Search for "Cardog's Salmon" for a great recipe. As for smaller peices, I generally do those indirect with some wood smoke. Works well.

Either way, cook to 140.

edit
Cardog's link: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/salmon1.html

Post Thu May 08, 2008 4:28 pm
QJuju well done
well done

Posts: 1915
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Salmon is very tasty... well worth trying IMHO.
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Post Thu May 08, 2008 5:34 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
I love hot smoked salmon and cold smoked trout. Definitely worth it. :)
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Post Fri May 09, 2008 1:39 am
Swamp Yankee well done
well done

Posts: 315
Location: Mass
basic and very good recipe for smoking salmon. done it and like it.
http://whatscookingamerica.net/SmokeSalmon.htm
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CG/SFB
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Post Sat May 10, 2008 4:43 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5692
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Smoked salmon is definitely worth a shot. I've done it several times and it's fantastic. Plus, it's a lot more forgiving than grilling it and it's really not a big ordeal. I grew up eating a lot of smoked salmon as a kid, and I still enjoy it on a regular basis.

Cardog's recipe is one option. Some folks like to use a brine cure rather than a dry one, though, so here's one I use a lot that's a bit more delicate tasting than a dry cure:

(Incidentally, I adapted this recipe from a book called "The Canning, Freezing, Curing and Smoking of Meat, Fish and Game. Probably the longest cookbook title I've ever seen! :lol: )

Brine (for 2-3 pound filet)
    1 cup water
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup maple syrup (the real and expensive stuff - which is why I don't use more of it. Honey, molasses or extra brown sugar can be substituted.)
    1/2 cup salt (I use sea salt or pickling salt, but stay away from table salt)
    1 TB black pepper (freshly ground)
    1 TB granulated garlic
    1 TB granulated onion


Clean and rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels, and then place the salmon in a resealable freezer bag. Mix all brine ingredients together and pour it into the freezer bag with the salmon (I normally squeeze most of the air out of the bag before sealing it, too). Place the bag in the refrigerator, and let the salmon cure for about 4 hours.

Rinse off the filet, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it on a rack over a plate or in a pan. You can either place the rack in the refrigerator or on the kitchen counter next to a fan as Cardog's recipe describes. Let the filet dry until the surface becomes tacky - which takes about 30 minutes.

The above step is crucial to getting good smoked fish. The fish develops a skin on it called a "pellicle", and that's what absorbs the smoke. If this layer of pellicle doesn't develop, the smoked fish will develop little bits of white curd on it, which is really unattractive both to look at and to eat.

At this point, I sometimes add a finishing rub as in Cardog's recipe. However, I'll normally just leave it as-is or simply sprinkle it with a bit of cracked black pepper. This recipe is a lot milder than Cardog's, and it really brings out the taste of the smoke and the fish, and the maple syrup really goes well with that.

Smoke the salmon at 225-250° for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours - the internal temperature should be about 140 to 155° F. Another way to tell if it is done is to test it with a finger - the surface will be firm but it will flake easily.

And yes - the fish takes on a really good smoke flavor, as long as you let it develop a pellicle as described above. It also comes out very tender and flaky.

As for the smoking wood, up here fish is traditionally smoked over alder wood as it provides a fairly light smoke that goes very well with the delicate taste of fish. Apple wood also works well, I've found, but stay away from hickory, mesquite, or the other heavier-tasting woods as the smoke overpowers the taste of the salmon.

I'd love to hear how this works out if you try this recipe, or the other one. Be sure to post pics if you can as well. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Mon May 12, 2008 10:58 am
rdub medium
medium

Posts: 132
Smoked two big salmon filets this weekend along with some grilled asparagas and pig candy for an appetizer.

I made a standard rub with a mix of brown sugar, paprika and just kind of threw in this and that. Rubbed it on and put the salmon, covered, back in the fridge for 3 hours prior.

The asparagas was tossed in Garlic salt, melted butter and olive oil.

The bacon for the pig candy got the same rub I used for the salmon.

This is my third smoke on the Char-griller, the second since I made a fire basket and raised rack for it to sit on. I have not ever been able to get the temp up as high as I did the first time, before I made the modifications to the side firebox. I used one chimney of lump and by itself, was only capable of temps up to 170. I had to dump a bunch more unlit on and it finally crept up to around 200 after about an hour and I still hadn't put any food on the grill yet. I finally put the salmon and bacon on and eventually I added another full lit chimney to get the temp up to 215.

I smoked the salmon for about 2 hours and my intent was to have the pig candy done well before that but it wasn't getting hot enough to carmelize the sugar. Once the salmon was done, I dumped the coals from my basked into the bottom of the SFB, put in the cooking grates and put the bacon in there to finish it and then added the asparagas and salmon and basted the salmon with my jack Daniels BBQ glaze (copy cat TGIFridays recipe).

Salmon was the best I've ever eaten in my life (except for some stuffed salmon I once had at Ruth's Chris but that had lobster in it). Pig Candy ended up burned but the Asparagas came out great.

Any advice on the temp problem? Should I start with two full lit chimneys? I did mount my basket a little on the high side, should I move the supports down to just above the ash drawer? Would that help with heat issues? I'm using a digital thermometer in a potato at the surface to measure grill temp. I had the vents open full the entire time.

Post Mon May 12, 2008 5:33 pm
rdub medium
medium

Posts: 132
bump...any thoughts?

Post Mon May 12, 2008 9:05 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5692
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Well, yes, lowering the basket and using two full lit chimneys will definitely help. My basket just barely clears the ash drawer and it seems to work well.

Another thing to try is to close the top vent - anywhere from 3/4 open down to 1/4. Some folks say that this helps retain heat better, too. Plus, check the joins between the firebox and the main chamber as a lot of heat goes out that way, too.
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Mon May 19, 2008 2:43 pm
QJuju well done
well done

Posts: 1915
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

CanadaBBQGuy wrote:
Smoked salmon is definitely worth a shot. I've done it several times and it's fantastic. Plus, it's a lot more forgiving than grilling it and it's really not a big ordeal. I grew up eating a lot of smoked salmon as a kid, and I still enjoy it on a regular basis.


I gave your recipe a try Sunday and it turned out very nice. I did substitute honey for the maple syrup. I also basted the salmon with a mixture of honey, butter, and soy sauce. No proportions... a couple of good squeezes of honey, tablespoon or so of butter, and a healthy Justin Wilson dash of soy... just till it tasted right. Warmed up till the butter melted.

Sorry there aren't any pics... :( but there may be smoked salmon quesadillas tomorrow. :) I also froze the tail piece to make salmon spread for memorial day.

Thanks for sharing your recipe CanadaBBQGuy...
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Post Tue May 20, 2008 1:19 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5692
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
QJuju wrote:
CanadaBBQGuy wrote:
Smoked salmon is definitely worth a shot. I've done it several times and it's fantastic. Plus, it's a lot more forgiving than grilling it and it's really not a big ordeal. I grew up eating a lot of smoked salmon as a kid, and I still enjoy it on a regular basis.


I gave your recipe a try Sunday and it turned out very nice. I did substitute honey for the maple syrup. I also basted the salmon with a mixture of honey, butter, and soy sauce. No proportions... a couple of good squeezes of honey, tablespoon or so of butter, and a healthy Justin Wilson dash of soy... just till it tasted right. Warmed up till the butter melted.

Sorry there aren't any pics... :( but there may be smoked salmon quesadillas tomorrow. :) I also froze the tail piece to make salmon spread for memorial day.

Thanks for sharing your recipe CanadaBBQGuy...


You're welcome! I used a very similar recipe (honey, soy, etc.) on some grilled chicken wings on Sunday. They turned out great, too! :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Wed May 21, 2008 10:40 am
Ericd medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 214
Location: Boston, MA
Hey guys....I'm going to do this salmon friday night....

Just curious...how much wood should I use to get the right amount of smoke?

Post Wed May 21, 2008 11:38 am
QJuju well done
well done

Posts: 1915
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Sort of a personal preference actually... I started with 3/4 of a chimney of lump and added some small pieces of hickory right before the fish went on. I kept adding more wood as the smoke thinned out. These were small pieces from the bottom of a bag of chunks. I didn't use bigger pieces because I wanted the temp to stay low. So... I got my heat from the lump and the smoke from my hickory. I kept the smoke up until the last 20 minutes. It was almost 160 and I just wanted to set my glaze.

Hope that helps...
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Post Wed May 21, 2008 12:54 pm
rdub medium
medium

Posts: 132
Ericd wrote:
Hey guys....I'm going to do this salmon friday night....

Just curious...how much wood should I use to get the right amount of smoke?


I didn't monit it that close, I used one full Chimney on top of another unlit chimney full, probably way more charcoal that needed, and I then I used Mesquite Chunks, 4 at a time and kept adding whenever the smoke went out. I could not have been happier with the flavor.

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