Salmon recipes vary, but this classic is a must
Smoked salmon: Everyone has his or her tried-and- true process. My recipe starts the moment I catch a fish. Treat it with respect, and chill it as soon as you can. Most of us fillet and freeze our salmon. This is great because 90 percent of the knife work is done. Properly packaged fish can last a year in the freezer, with no spoilage.
When you thaw the meat prior to smoking be sure to do so in the refrigerator. Keep the fish cool to keep it safe.
I find that if the fish is still slightly frozen it is easier to work with when cutting into strips.
My smoking starts later in the year as temperatures begin to wane. I also reserve some salmon to dry in strips when the insects cease to buzz for the season. I wait for these cooler temperatures because it gives you better control of the smoking process.
Brining is up for debate. Some argue for a dry brine, others for a wet. I have had great success with both. However the best brine that I know was smuggled out of Bristol Bay in a Folger’s can in the back of a Cessna 206. So if you can keep a secret, I’ll share it with you this month. Good.
I mix the brine in what we call an “Alaskan Samsonite” – essentially a Rubbermaid tub. The reason is twofold, it is easy to clean and can be sealed with the lid, and they stack nice in my garage fridge. This brine takes about four days and really penetrates the meat, add- ing the wonderful flavor my friends have come to expect.
Rinse in water.
Next I place the strips on a wire rack using sawhorses in the garage. Be sure and lay some plastic under the racks as what drips off is gooey and messy. A cheap plastic painter’s dropcloth from a box store works great. I point an oscillating fan at the fish and dry until it is just tacky.
For smokers, I use my Bradley for this purpose because I can get different flavored woods for the heat. My favorite is the wood puck made from old Crown Royal aging barrels. It adds a delightfully different flavor for the salmon, very savory.
As far as time and temperatures go, it depends on whether you are making jerky or soft smoke. My goal is to end up in the last hour at 180 degrees to glaze the soft smoke that I prefer. Total time, starting at 140 degrees to finish, is six to eight hours. This is just my opinion and experience here: Results may vary.
Again, the drying rack comes into play to ensure that the salmon is cool and all moisture is wicked away.
Vacuum seal your finished product, and now you have a treat worth its weight in gold to send outside for the ones you care about.
Have some halibut you want to play with?
Use the same recipe and technique described here to make some amazingly delicious nuggets.
Once all the smoking is done, there are plenty of recipes in which to experiment. I prefer my smoked salmon egg rolls, which are unique and full of flavor – sure to be the hit of any party.
Go forth, Alaskans, and ply your trade. Just as driving the Alcan is a rite of passage, so too, is smoking your own salmon. If you’re going to get off the chechako list and attain sourdough status, this is one of the tasks you must complete.
— Cheers Mark J. Bly, The Flying Chef
SECRET ALASKAN SALMON BRINE
Be sure to refrigerate all fish thoroughly.
Everyone seems to have his or her secret brine for smoking salmon. Here is mine; be sure and keep it a secret.
8 cups soy sauce
4 pounds brown sugar
5 Tablespoons garlic powder
3 Tablespoons seasoning salt
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients in a large, clean, nonreactive bucket or Rubbermaid tub with lid.
Cut fish according to your desires and specifications. Place fish in marinade and place in refrigerator. Brine for minimum period of four days. Stir daily.
At the end of the brine, rinse your fish and dry or smoke.
ALASKAN SMOKED SALMON EGG ROLLS
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups peanut oil for frying
3 eggs, beaten 1 egg white
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 carrot, julienned
4 ounces shredded bamboo shoots
1/2 pound Chinese sausage, julienned
1 Taro root, boiled, peeled and mashed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of salt
3 slices fresh ginger, grated
1/2 pound Alaska smoked salmon in small chunks
1 package egg roll wrappers
Put 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over a medium heat. Pour in the beaten eggs and cook without stirring until firm. Flip the eggs over and cook for an additional 20 seconds. The idea is make a pancake.
Remove from the heat and set aside until cool, and then cut into thin strips.
Heat the rest of the vegetable oil and add the cabbage, ginger and
carrots. Cook until wilted, and then add bamboo, green onions, salt, soy sauce and sugar. Cook until all ingredients are softened, add the egg and then remove from the heat. Spread out on a sheet or pan to cool. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Boil the Taro root until soft. Peal and mash in a bowl. Allow to cool
Pour the egg white into a small bowl. On a clean surface, lay out a couple of egg roll wrappers at a time. Make sure one corner of the wrapper is facing you.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of the vegetable-egg mixture onto each egg roll wrapper toward the bottom third of the wrap. Put some smoked salmon and sausage on top of the mixture. Spread a line of the taro atop the salmon and sausage. Brush some of the egg white on to the top edges of the wrapper.
Roll the wrapper firmly about halfway up. Now fold the left and right sides of the egg roll over the roll and continue firmly until the top corners of the roll meet the egg wash and seal.
Heat the peanut oil in a pan or wok. You are looking for a depth of about 6 inches for the oil. The target temperature is 375 degrees. Heat the rolls three or four at a time and blot on paper towels.
Cool and enjoy! (A word of caution: Oil is hot; beware.)