Smoked salmon is one of the great joys of life! In my opinion, one of the best types of smoked salmon is cold smoked salmon.
It is the perfect accompaniment to a platter, great with eggs benedict or just fantastic on a cracker with cream cheese.
The possibilities are endless and I am yet to come across a combination that I don’t like.
The process of cold smoking salmon is actually surprisingly easy and is something that I wish that I had come across earlier in my smoking career.
Cold smoked salmon has now become something that my whole family is obsessed with.
Someone is always asking me to make it.
I love creating it, but it does take time, a little bit of know-how and a couple of special pieces of equipment.
I often get asked a lot of questions about how to cold smoke salmon and just the basics of smoking salmon in general.
There are a few things about cold smoking salmon that you should know before you start:
Note: You can also build your own cold smoker out of your gas or charcoal grills.
It may come as a surprise to you but frozen salmon is actually better to smoke with than fresh. This is because the freezing process does two things:
Once the walls have been ruptured and the salmon starts to thaw, the liquid from inside the fillets drains from the flesh. This means there is less water for the brine to remove.
Now you know you should be using frozen salmon, what kind of salmon should you use?
Choosing your salmon is very important. There are plenty of different kinds of salmon out there, but what one is right for smoking?
Each different type of salmon has different oil levels. You will get a better smoke out of salmon with a higher oil content.
Sockeye salmon, King salmon (Chinook salmon).
It is not imperative that you use one of these cuts, however, for you seafood lovers out there it will be well worth it!
The brine is a very important part. It is a very delicate process and one that you should take a lot of care while doing. Essentially, the better you brine - The better your final result will be.
Here are some of my top tips to remember when brining your salmon:
The curing process is another long process. To cure your salmon evenly spread 1/3 of your cure in a glass baking dish that is slightly larger than your fillet/ fillets. Lay out your salmon pieces (give yourself a buffer between the salmon and the edge by around 1/2 inch).
stored your remaining cure overtop and make sure there are no gaps and everything is covered completely.
You are going to want to keep your salmon covered in the refrigerator for at the very least 12 hours.
24 - 48 hours is ideal. You will get a much better result the longer you let the salmon cure for.
While the salmon is curing it is the perfect time to add additional herbs or spices. This will give the salmon a more in depth flavor and also a more interesting appearance.
Over the curing period, the salt that remains in the salmon will evenly distribute throughout the fillet. This will stop the fillet from having a salty center.
At this stage the proteins in the salmon will start to bind together, this will start to dehydrate the salmon. Which makes the salmon perfect for adding to the smoker.
Now, the pellicle starts to form.
The pellicle is a very thin layer of dry proteins that were liquified during the brining process. You can tell when the pellicle layer has been formed because you will see a glossy, clear coating over the entire fillet.
The pellicle is essential because it stops large amounts of liquid from escaping from the salmon as it smokes.
Charlie's Hot (Smoking) Tip
Not only do I love cold smoked salmon, I also love hot smoked salmon! I find that due to flavour you need for smoked salmon, you need to make sure your not leaking ANY smoke!
I would recommend using a smoker that holds it heat aswell. I usually use my Camp Chef Smokepro Lux for this hot smoked succulent treat! This smoker is apart my pellet grill reviews, I thought it was that good I had to make it apart of it!
Finally, we are ready for the smoking!
Remove your salmon from the refrigerator and wash off any excess cure.
When smoking it's important to have a good amount of space around each fillet. This will ensure that there is good smoke circulation and all pieces are smoked evenly. Also try to have each piece of the salmon evenly spaced from the front, back and sides.
Depending on the size and the number of fillets in the smoker, the actual smoking process should take around 10 – 20 hours. Keeping in mind larger/ thicker pieces will take longer than smaller pieces. If the smoker has more inside of, it will also take longer to smoke.
During the smoking process, the fillet will become more firm and look drier. The longer the fillet is smoked for the more intense the smoke flavor will be.
Once smoked the salmon is smoked I like to eat it right away. However, the best way to store it (if you can wait that long to eat it) is to vacuum seal it. It will last for several months unopened. Or if you would prefer to freeze it will last for up to 1 year.
Charlie's Tasty Tip
If your family isn't too keen on fish, how about chicken? Chicken is a safe option that always comes out absolute delicious in the smoker!
However, chicken can be fickle! Overdone it can be like cardboard! So I always get asked by my friends how I smoke wings . These bad boys are sweet, spicy & smoky, no one at my cookouts can resist them!
There you have it, cold smoked salmon.
Its as simple as that.
I know your family and friends are going to absolutely love you for this one!
Do you have a different way to cold smoke salmon? Or have some life changing cold smoked salmon recipes I need to try?
I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below!
Happy Smoking everyone,
Like This Content? Make Sure You Share it!
Still Hungry For More?
You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.