The syrupy cure should now be washed off and the salmon patted dry. The salmon will feel firmer than before as the cure has drawn out some of the water from the fish. The salmon should now be left to dry for a further 3 to 4 hours, this is again best done in the fridge and ideally on a rack so the air can reach all surfaces. During this time a slightly sticky ‘pedicle’ will form which helps the salmon to take on the smoke flavours.
This is now a good time to clean out you EGG (or whatever smoker you are using). I use the ProQ smoker to generate the necessary smoke. This is a little metal maze that is filled with ‘wood dust’. It is lit at one end and then allowed to smoulder. This smouldering area tracks around the metal maze for around 12 hours producing the smoke that is the second flavouring agent and the second preservative for the salmon. I purchased my ProQ and the different wood dusts from the very helpful people at Hotsmoked.co.uk.
The ProQ, once lit, is stood on the bottom grate of the charcoal free EGG, the stainless steel grill is put in place and the cured salmon placed on top. Close the EGG, open the vents slightly and let nature take its course. In winter in the U.K. you can usually do this stage at any time of day as the temperature will be on the cold side. If doing it in the summer, avoid what passes for a heat wave in the U.K. and do the smoking at night. If you can plan to avoid days with high humidity, including rain, I have found the smoked result a little better, but this is not something to get too concerned about.
After 8-12 hours the salmon will have taken on a little more colour and a gloriously smoky aroma. The salmon in the picture to the left were smoked over a mixture of Whisky Barrel Oak and Beech. The salmon should now be removed from the smoker, wrapped in cling film and put in the fridge for a day or so to let the smoking mature and equalize through the fish. If you didn’t freeze the salmon for a week before curing it is time to do it now. I cut the side into convenient size pieces, vacuum pack them, label and pop them into the freezer – ready for use in a week’s time!
Basic Smoked Salmon
A simple cure and cold smoked salmon recipe
- 1 or more sides of salmon - ideally skin on
- 250g salt
- 500g brown sugar (soft dark brown)
- 25g of ground ginger
- 25g of ground white pepper
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 5g or 1 teaspoon of ground allspice
- Step 1 Run your hand along the top surface of the salmon and check that there are no pin bones left in the fish, if there are remove with a pair of tweezers.
- Step 2 Mix the ‘cure’ using the ingredients listed or your own favourite variant. As listed this will produce a sweet cure. The ratio of salt and sugar can be reversed for a basic cure. The quantities in the ingredient list should easily be enough for 2 sides of salmon
- Step 3 Sprinkle a layer of the cure in the base of a food grade dish that will hold the salmon. Lay the salmon on the cure, skin side down.
- Step 4 Rub the top surface of the salmon with some more of the cure and lightly dust more on the top till all surfaces are just covered, slightly thicker, where the salmon is thicker.
- Step 5 Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 12 hours, usually overnight. Wash off the now syrupy cure and pat the salmon dry. Leave the salmon to dry for a further 3 to 4 hours. This is best done in the fridge and ideally on a rack so the air can reach all surfaces. This allows a sticky ‘pedicle’ to form which helps with the smoking
- Step 6 Whilst all this is going on, clean out you EGG (or whatever smoker you are using) to make space for your smoke generator.
- Step 7 If using the ProQ smoker fill with a ‘wood dust’ of your choice: a really good general starting point is Beech dust. The dust is lit at one end (this can take some time) then allowed to smoulder. Once lit, the ProQ should be stood on the bottom grate of the charcoal free EGG and the stainless steel grill put in place. The cured salmon can then be placed onto and left for 8-12 hours with the BGE closed and the top and bottom vent opened a little
- Step 8 After 8-12 hours the salmon should be removed and wrapped in cling film and put back into the fridge for the flavours to equalise.
- Step 9 Remember – Freeze the Salmon for one week before or after curing and smoking
- Step 10 Present the salmon in your favourite way – the simplest is probably slicing the salmon with a sharp knife at 45 degrees to the surface. Sliced towards the head end moving towards the tail with each slice