Want to know how to cold smoke sockeye salmon?
I had a wonderful reader get in touch recently!
Doug had tried my cold smoked salmon recipe with some Cohoe salmon.
He is a chef, and his colleagues agreed, it was the best-smoked salmon they ever had!
He recently got some sashimi grade Sockeye salmon.
He wanted to try the recipe again but this time with some ancho chili!
He does a fantastic job and we can’t wait to hear what he is smoking next! Take it away Doug!
First of all, a second to introduce myself.
My name is Doug, and I live on the north shores of Lake Huron, specifically in a small town by the name of Bayfield, Ontario.
I am a certified chef, trained in classical French cuisine, and have primarily worked in fine dining restaurants most of my career.
Smoking fish is not part of the curriculum, although I have made gravlax in the past.
I had the good fortune of catching a beautiful coho salmon a few weeks ago here on Lake Huron – maybe a seven-pounder, definitely sushi-grade.
So I had an idea that I wanted to cold smoke it, which is how when searching the internet I came upon Charlie’s site. It was exactly what I was looking for. I followed his instruction to the tee, and the results were more than remarkable.
Every single person that I let sample, including other chef friends of mine said it was the best-smoked salmon they ever had!
So being somewhat inspired, I had a sockeye salmon shipped to me from a very reputable fishmonger in Toronto, fresh even.
I think it had been in the water out in British Columbia a couple of days before being wild-caught.
Being a chef, I wanted to tweak the recipe, just a bit, and added 1/2 of an Ancho ( this is a Poblano chili, dried and smoked ) just for a little warmth, not heat!
Anyhow, turns out it didn’t make much difference, taste-wise.
Next time I will try a whole chili. You can’t take it out, once you put it in, which is why I started with a half.
I started to photograph the process a little late, so I don’t have a pic of Charlie’s curing mix until after I took the fish out of the fridge, but can sort of giving you a visual of how Charlie’s process goes down. So here is that story.
The cured salmon after 72 hours. Charlie suggests that 24 hours is sufficient, but on that particular day, I was a little under the weather.
I don’t think the extra hours hurt the process at all, and in fact, may have been a good thing.
So at this point, we rinse the fillets thoroughly and pat them dry. I wrapped mine in tea towels and refrigerated for four hours as suggested in Charlie’s recipe.
Moving along to the Smoking!!!! First of all, you will want to soak some wood chips, available at most hardware stores.
I used mesquite this time. I thought the flavor of the Mesquite would compliment the warmth of the Ancho chilies.
Well, we know how that worked out, but you can choose from many flavors of wood, your choice!
Soaking the chips in water before the smoke. 20 minutes is fine. Now, fire up the smoker!
I previously sent Charlie detailed instructions on how a serious hobbyist or dedicated foodie can build your own smoker, as I did. You can find these instructions on his site! (Check them out here guys – Charlie)
My cold smoker. Note the tin can has a powerful soldering iron inserted through the bottom “lid”.
The other end where the smoke is coming from is opened almost all the way, but leave an inch or so still attached to the can, sort of making a “hinge” on the bottom.
It lays on a grate on the bottom of the tub, to prevent plastic from melting.
Have a bag of ice ready. You can leave it in the bowl, or simply toss in a handful of ice around the iron and grate situated on the bottom of the tub.
Depending on the room temperature, for example, mid-winter, you may not need it. But on a hot day, it’s a different story.
At any rate, as Charlie suggests you ideally want the temperature at 88 deg. F. If the temperature gets as high as 90 deg., toss in some more ice.
How I monitored the temperature was to drill a small hole in the lid of the tub and inserted an instant-read thermometer, available at most grocery stores for 20$ or less.
Now lay the fillets on the top rack of your smoker, then close the lid tightly.
I find using the rig that I made, and a can that size ( I think it is a 19 oz. can. A little bigger than a Campbell’s soup can ), full of the pre-soaked chips with the soldering iron inserted, you can pretty well leave it alone for two hours, once you have the temperature sorted out.
After that, continue to toss the spent chips, and replace them with new ones. More ice may be added at the same time. So Charlie recommends 12 hours of cold smoke, so get started early in the day – otherwise, you may be up quite late. It’s all a matter of timing!
The picture above is the Sockeye Salmon after smoking 12 hours. It is now time to refrigerate for a few hours before slicing, portioning, and vacuum sealing.
Find your sharpest knife, preferably with a thin blade.
My Global slicing knife. Very expensive, but a good, sharp filleting knife should do the trick.
Weighing the packets of smoked salmon after slicing. I like to slice the pieces wafer-thin.
I portion into 120gram bags specifically made for the “Food Saver” brand” vacuum sealer.
They keep food much longer both in the fridge, or the freezer. Ordinary kitchen digital scales, available at say Walmart for 20 bucks.
I sincerely hope this little Visual adventure was helpful to Someone. Yours truly,
I can’t wait to see what Doud smokes next!
Each time he email me it with something more delicious than the last!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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