Alton Brown’s smoked salmon recipe is straight-forward and simple. Yesterday, we applied a salt/sugar rub to stacked salmon fillets, wrapped them tightly and pressed them firmly with trays and heavy books.
Today the fillets, when rinsed thoroughly of the rub mixture, have seemingly darkened in color and tightened in texture. Alton directs us to let the fillets sit in a cool place for 1-3 hours until the surface of the fillets has a “dry, matte-like” finish. Done.
Enter the Camerons smoker. The smoker arrives with a variety of wood-flavored smoking chips… cherry, oak, hickory. I placed 1 Tbsp of hickory chips in the bottom of the smoker, lined the drip tray with foil and placed the fillets on the rack. Instructions say to use medium heat, and when a wisp of smoke is seen, close the lid and begin the smoking process. Smoking time should be 22-28 min.
I erred on the side of less, not more, heat so as not to burn the chips and over-smoke the fillet. (It’s respecting the salmon that I mentioned in the previous post.) It turned out to be a bit too conservative as I needed to add time… several times… in 2-3 min increments, to monitor whether the thickest part of the fillets had reached 150 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.
I let the fillets cool just slightly, then placed them in sealed containers and refrigerated. I thought I might wait until the following day to taste-test. The next day I allowed the smoked salmon to come to room temp, then noshed.
There is a noticeable saltiness that melds into the smoked flavor. The center of the fillets separates easily and is tender. The thinner ends of the fillets are well-flavored but drier. Since my total smoking time well exceed the 22-28 min in Alton’s recipe, when I smoke salmon again, I’ll use somewhat less salt, and turn the smoker heat up a bit to reduce cooking time.
When could I possibly eat smoked salmon? With eggs for breakfast. As mid-morning snack. The star of a salad with fresh greens for lunch. On Irish soda bread with chive butter and cocktails. With feta on brioche before bed.