Christmas time is here and one of the traditions my father introduced to our family was smoking salmon. He would spend a couple of weekends prior to Christmas every year smoking salmon and delivering a plate to our friends and family for Christmas morning. Nothing is better than a cup of coffee, bagel and smoked salmon while your kids open presents from Santa. Here is his recipe for you or your family to enjoy. I will be making my inaugural attempt this weekend. I will let you know how it turns out.
Step 1: Buy the Salmon:
Costco has a great selection of Salmon at a reasonable price. If you are one who cares about farmed or wild (may be a norcal only topic), I am not sure if the Salmon is farm raised or fished from the sea.
Step 2: Prepare the Salmon in a Brine solution:
In order to create a moist and tasty piece of smoked salmon you will need to marinate the Salmon in a brine solution for 24-36 hours. I am told, there is not a lot of difference in the taste based on time after 24 hours but there is a noticeable difference if marinated less than 24 hours. Here is the brine solution that my father uses.
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of salt (Kosher salt is better)
Pint Jar with water with warm water not too warm because this will cook the salmon. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar in the solution.
Put Salmon in dish and add solution
Add an additional pint of water to the dish
Cover the dish and put in the refrigerator overnight
Step 3: Prepare the smoker
Either a electric or charcoal smoker will do for smoking. However, use boiling water in the water bow if you want to obtain the right temperature and keeping your Salmon moist . You need to think carefully about which order your put things into the smoker. It is recommended that you get your charcoal or heat source working first, then the water and then place the Salmon on to the rack. You can use your window in the smoker to add wood chips once the fish is smoking. Otherwise you will have smoke in your face as you place the salmon onto the smoker. Make sure you soak the woodchips at least for 60 minutes prior to adding them to the fire. You don't want them burning immediately and you don't want them too wet that they cool your fire.
Step 4: Smoke the Salmon
You should check the salmon after 2 hours to ensure that things are going well. However, you don't want to keep checking very often because it will take the heat out of the smoker. The Salmon should take 4-5 hours to be complete. It should be done when the meat looks orange and flakes. The water should mostly be gone when you are done with the smoking. If it goes faster you may have too hot of a heat source.
Step 5: Serve
My father always served his smoked salmon with mini bagels and a lemon-onion Creamcheese. Here is the skinny on where and how to make it. You can pick-up you mini-bagels at either Costco or Trader Joes. The creamcheese can be picked up at Smart & Final but you will also need onions and lemons to complete the recipe. Zest a lemon and combine creamcheese with onions into a mixer and blend the ingredients to taste.
Cut the Salmon up into 1/3 pieces. Place on a plate with the minibagels cut in half and serve with the creamcheese.
You can store the salmon in the refrigerator after smoking up to 2 weeks. Remember this is how they used to store meat in the old days.