Saturday, June 25, 2011

Smokin' Hot (or cold) !

No, not the weather you silly goose!  While out for an afternoon stroll my husband and I came across a Little Chief Smoker for an awesome-just-couldn't-refuse price; we've been looking at getting a smoker for a while but just didn't want to shell out the $150 for the one I really wanted.  In the meantime, this one will certainly do!  It's an electric model with four racks and an insulating jacket, I think the only thing this model is missing is a thermostat, but I found an external monitor left over from some beer making, so I think I'm in business!

My first project is to smoke some salmon.  On our way home we found some exceptionally fresh whole Copper River sockeye for $5.99/#.  Crazy- it was cheaper than the regular sockeye...and I figured with the higher fat content, I simply couldn't go wrong.  Below you will find the standard CIA salmon cure with basic instructions on how to get started with smoking fish.  This cure is a little sweeter than I usually care for, but it is a great starting point.

Smoked Salmon Cure- for 3# salmon fillet, skin on

8 oz salt
4 oz sugar
4 g onion powder
1.5 g ground cloves
1.5 g crushed bay leaves
1.5 g ground mace
1.5 g ground allspice

  • Remove the pin bones and place the salmon skin side down in a pan with high sides.  Pack the cure ingredients onto the flesh of the salmon, putting a bit less as the fillet gets thin near the tail end.  Wrap loosely and cure the salmon under refrigeration for 12-24 hours.  Rinse off the cure with cool water and blot dry with paper towels.
  • Lay flat on a rack and allow to air dry overnight in the refrigerator (I cheat by placing the fillet in a cool place and running a fan onto it).  This is an incredibly important step as it forms the pellicle- a tacky dry skin that develops on top of the cured item that not only protects as the item is being smoked, but helps to capture the smokey flavor.  
    • After you have a sufficient pellicle formed (the fish should feel almost dry), for a tender lox-like texture, cold smoke the fish for 4-6 hours at 100F or less.  Smoked salmon, wrapped well, will keep for one week in the refrigerator. 
     Or, you can eat it right away, on a freshly baked bialy with capers, red onion, lemon, cream cheese and some leaves of parsley.  Yum!  The recipe for bialys will be another story for another day...

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