This cold smoked salmon is delicious on salads, on toast, or off the fork! Here's everything you need to know about how to smoke salmon.
Remove pin bones: Run fingers down the top of the salmon and remove any pin bones with tweezers or pliers if you encounter any sharp ends.
Cure the salmon: In a bowl mix sugar and salt. Then in a rimmed baking dish the size of the salmon fillet lay half of the prepared mixture. Place the fillet skin side down on top of the mixture and cover with the other half of the sugar-salt mixture making sure to cover the fish completely. Cover the container with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for 24-48 hours. The cure will help to kill any bad bacteria and draw out mixture from the salmon fillet.
Dry out the fish: Remove the salmon from the cure and gently rinse. Then, soak in cold water for about 30 minutes to remove excess salinity. Pat dry the salmon with a paper towel. Set a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and place the fish on top. Refrigerate uncovered in the coldest part of the fridge overnight (minimum 4 hours recommended) or up to 24 hours to form a pellicle (dry outer layer to help the smoke adhere).
Pro Tip: A mesh drying cage can also be a good option to give you the ability to dry the fish outdoors, with a fan set in front of. The fan will help to dry the fish faster. The mesh material will allow for air flow from the fan, while not letting any critters in.
Generate the cold smoke:
Keep it cool: The inside of the smoker should not rise higher than 80F. A probe thermoemter is a good tool to help you keep it in check. If it's warmer outside, fill a baking dish with ice and set it about 1-2 inches below the fish. Keep replacing the dish with ice throughout smoking to keep the temperature inside the smoker down.
Smoke the salmon: Let the fish smoke for around 12 - 24 hours (more or less depending on the thickness of the salmon), checking occasionally to make sure that the smoke is still being produced. The salmon is properly smoked if it is darker in color, firm with not a lot of give when pressed on and somewhat translucent. You can cut a small piece and taste it and decide if it's smoked to your liking.
Chill: Once the smoked salmon is finished smoking refrigerate it for several hours until it is well chilled. Then, slice and serve.
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