Suplemental log! Tonight we made the perfect Pork Tenderloin but afterwards, Roman went out to play on the Big Green Egg by testing his first ever smoked salmon. Admittedly it was only a test but the result was un!@#$%&*!real!
When you purchase smoked salmon, you don’t even think about what goes into making it do you? Of course not, it’s convenient and not bad tasting. Now, if you actually hot smoke your own salmon? Well, the result can be incredible, as was the case tonight.
It all started with brining. The basic brine I used today included the following:
- 2 cups of water
- 1/8 cup Kosher salt
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon dried fennel
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 4 cloves smashed garlic
Mix all the ingredients together and add the fish to a non-reactive container. I used a tupperware container with a lid, then moved it into the fridge for 4 hours to cure. This step can take longer of course but I was playing with one fairly small salmon fillet.
Once done, I removed the fish from the brine and washed it down, patting it dry then with kitchen roll. I set the fillet on a rack and then dried it in our living room under the air-con and ceiling fan. This is a critical step that many people omit. It’s THE step that will ensure your fish is ready for smoking. What happens after about 2 hours of drying, the fish forms a coat of pellicle, a thin lacquer-lie layer on top of the salmon that will seal it also causing a sticky surface for the actual smoke to adhere to. It all makes good scientific sense!
Step three means getting your smoker ready. In our case it was our trusty Big Green (Asian) Egg that was just coming back down from grilling pork tenderloin about an hour earlier. You want low temperatures for smoking and I tried to keep my egg around the 200 degree mark. Hard to do when the grill was nuclear hot only an hour earlier. I tried every trick I knew and still I struggled. So, the end result was that I settled for 275-300 for just under an hour. Of course you need your wood too and whilst battling the heat, I chucked in 3 fist fulls of apple wood, some of which was soaked. The result was an awesome fragrance that actually got the neighbours to perk up and ask what I was up to.
I placed the salmon in a make shift aluminium foil tray coated with vegetable oil. That actually helped remove the skin once the fish was done smoking. At the 45 minute mark I knew we were close and I pulled the salmon off at 50 minutes. I then let it rest for about 5 minutes before flipping the foil tray over and then carefully peeling off the skin. I then put the salmon fillet back on a rack to dry. Once the temperature came down to about room temperature I wrapped it tightly in cling film and threw it in the fridge.
My darling wife and 14 year old son (both of which can eat their combined body weight in smoked salmon) unanimously agreed that at 9:30 pm we had to try it, else the test could not be confirmed. Well, you be the judge. Look at the Overall Heather Rating below and the pics. I scored tonight with two amazing dishes and I can guarantee you that I’ll be smoking entire sides of salmon next!
Overall Heather Rating: 11/10