How to Make Homemade Smoked Salmon

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Smoked Salmon
Smoked Salmon (Image: fresh salmon fillet image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Smoked salmon has a rich, earthy flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in sushi, hors d'oeuvres and pasta dishes. Unfortunately, it's relatively expensive, often costing $30 a pound or more, so many people serve it only on special occasions. If you have a smoker, you can make your own smoked salmon--and fresh salmon costs far less than smoked. You can adjust the seasonings or try different varieties of wood chunks like oak, alder, apple or maple to suit your taste.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 tbsp. celery seed
  • 1 tbsp. whole black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Large plastic or glass mixing bowl
  • 4 to 6 fresh salmon fillets (about 3 lbs.)
  • Baking pan or cookie sheet
  • Fan
  • Smoker with grate
  • Probe thermometer
  • Wood chunks or shavings labeled for smoking

Crush the celery seed, black pepper and garlic. You can do this in a mortar and pestle, or place the ingredients in a sturdy freezer bag and tap with a hammer.

Combine the water, salt and brown sugar in a large plastic or glass mixing bowl or bucket. Stir until the salt and brown sugar are completely dissolved. Add the celery seed, pepper and garlic.

Submerge the salmon fillets in the brine and cover. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Remove the salmon from the brine and rinse under cold water. Place the fillets skin side down on a baking pan or cookie sheet with a fan blowing over them. Leave to dry for 2 hours, or until the surface of the fish is dry and matte.

Place the probe portion of the thermometer inside the smoker so that it is in the air and not touching any surfaces. Heat the smoker to 140 to 150 degrees F.

Place the salmon on the grate in the smoker with the skin side down and smoke for 1 to 2 hours. The smoked salmon is ready when it flakes easily.

Remove the smoked salmon from the smoker and store wrapped in the refrigerator for up to one week.

BWMR2

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment with additional seasonings like dill or lemon juice, but don't reduce the salt or sugar. These ingredients are necessary to cure the smoked salmon and prevent it from spoiling.
  • Smoked salmon can be stored frozen for about three months.
  • If moisture appears on the surface of the salmon during smoking, dab it off gently with a paper towel.
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