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Smoked Salmon

I love smoked salmon. I like to make it as a gift at Christmas and for my father’s birthday. It is a time intensive process, but most of the time is inactive. You brine the fish, smoke it while basting occasionally, then you  cool it down. I always snack on a bit of it with crackers and cheese right after it’s finished, but the flavor improves when the fish is cold. 

In order to give this as a gift, I vacuum-seal it. If I make the fish far in advance, I vacuum-seal it and freeze it. I always write the date I smoked and packed the fish right on the vacuum sealing. (I have to say, though, that everyone I give this to opens it up right away and snarfs it down.)

With all the cookies and candies being given at the holiday season, I like to switch it up with something savory. Enjoy! 

5 pounds of salmon
1 quart of water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup, plus extra for basting

Mix together the water, salt, brown sugar and syrup. Place into a plastic bag and add the salmon. Refrigerate the fish 24 to 30 hours. 

Take the fish out of the brine and pat it dry. Place the fish on a wire rack and allow the fish to dry in a cool, breezy place, until the surface develops a shiny skin called a pellicle. This pellicle provides a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to. 

Smoke your fish. My smoker is an outdoor gas powered unit but please refer to the manual that came with yours. I smoke my fish with apple or cherry chips for 2 hours at 100 degrees F, another 2 hours at 140 degrees F, then I finish for another 2 hours at 175 degrees F. Baste the fish with the syrup every hour. You want the fish to finish at an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.

Cool the fish completely before enjoying. 

This will keep in the fridge for 10 days. I f you vacuum seal it, it will last 3 weeks. Frozen, it will last 6 months. Enjoy!


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