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Pictorial Compendium of Making Lox (Cold-Smoked Salmon)

Ottawa_eggerOttawa_egger Posts: 236
edited 11:45AM in EggHead Forum
The engineer in me drove me attempt to make some cold-smoked salmon this holiday break. I searched the web and found more variations than you can shake a stick at, so I took what I thought was the best aspects of many and made a go at it.[p]I started with two 1-lb pieces of Atlantic salmon, approximately equal thickness and roughly uniform across each. Wild Coho or Sockeye is recommended, but out of season so I was relegated to farm-raised Atlantic salmon. I them made a rub of 3 parts kosher/sea salt to 4 parts dark brown sugar. Some recipes suggest dill (lots of it), others not, others suggest whatever other herb you want. So I caked the rub on thick on each fillet and make a sandwich with the two fillets and the dill.[p]<a href="http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w89/bigbadandugly/Cold_smoked_salmon/?action=view&current=Sandwich.jpg"; target="_blank">Sandwich.jpg[p]The resulting sandwich was then wrapped in three layers of saran wrap and them put in a glass container (suggested because the salt sucks much of the moisture from the salmon and makes a syrup with the brown sugar). Some suggested that the mixture does not need be refrigerated due to the salt, while others suggested the sandwich needed to be weighed down. I decided to weigh the sandwich down in my custom seasonal cooler.[p]<a href="http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w89/bigbadandugly/Cold_smoked_salmon/?action=view&current=Cooler.jpg"; target="_blank">Cooler.jpg[p]The suggested rub/soaking time was from 12 hours to 5+ days. I ended up letting mine soak 2.5 days, flipping every 12 hours, largely because I started the process on Xmas Eve and needed a dryer vent hose for the smoking step, which I wasn't able to get until the 27th. After the first 12 hours I removed the weights because the saran wrap was a gunky mess. Here is a shot of the mess after 48 hrs - you can see the nice colour forming already and the dark syrup at the bottom.[p]<a href="http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w89/bigbadandugly/Cold_smoked_salmon/?action=view&current=wrapped_48hrs.jpg"; target="_blank">wrapped_48hrs.jpg[p]I then made an almost-saturated brine solution of roughly 2.5 lbs of salt to a 1/2 gallon of water. I boiled the water to make dissolving the salt easier. A completely saturated solution (recommended) would have taken about 3 lbs of salt. Obviously with a larger salmon fillet you will need more brine solution to avoid overlapping salmon chunks. Some recipes recommend the rub and brining steps be combined by making a salt/sugar solution and soaking the fillets for 12+ hours. After letting the solution cool to room temperature and rinsing the rub from the salmon, I brined the fillets for 12 hours. Here are the resulting brined fillets:[p]<a href="http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w89/bigbadandugly/Cold_smoked_salmon/?action=view&current=Brined_filets.jpg"; target="_blank">Brined_filets.jpg[p]I then did a step known as "freshening", which is essentially running fresh cold water over the fillets to rinse away the salt from the brining step. It is recommended to freshen for one to two hours, so I did about one hour. Sorry, I forgot to take a photo, but I essentially put the two fillets in a large mixing bowl and tipped it on its side in the kitchen sink as I ran cold water over it. Obviously you'll have to adjust your setup if you're working with larger fillets. One recipe suggested putting the fillets into a bucket and sticking it outside with the garden hose in it, but obviously that would not have worked in late December in northern Canada. [p]Next came the smoking phase. The smoking process is what differentiates "nova lox" from "lox". Alder wood is apparently the wood of choice for smoked salmon, but I had a choice of mesquite, apple, guava and cherry wood for smoke. Mesquite was out of the question, but I wasn't sure about the other three. So I chose guava wood. Here is a shot of my smoking setup. I fired up the mini to around 250-300 degrees with three chunks of guava wood and used a 4" dryer vent hose to pipe the smoke into the large where the salmon was sitting. I originally wanted to feed the hose into the bottom vent of the large so the smoke went in the upwards direction, but couldn't get it to fit. A 3" hose would have fit better on the mini and fit into the vent. You can see the large egg belching smoke out its vent.[p]Setup_III.jpg[p]The key in the smoking phase is apparently to make sure the smoke chamber doesn't rise above 90 degrees. One hour of smoking was the most often recommending smoking time, but given the amount of smoke I was generating I cut it short after 40 minutes. This wasn't a problem given snow is in season here in Ottawa, but in warmer weather you could stretch the tubing to give it more surface area to cool off or run the hose through an ice bath. Here is a couple of shots of the final product.[p]<a href="http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w89/bigbadandugly/Cold_smoked_salmon/?action=view&current=Finished_smoked_filets.jpg"; target="_blank">Finished_smoked_filets.jpg
<a href="http://s174.photobucket.com/albums/w89/bigbadandugly/Cold_smoked_salmon/?action=view&current=Sliced_I.jpg"; target="_blank">Sliced_I.jpg[p]I was really happy with the outcome. The texture is indistinguishable from the store-bought product that costs over 2x that of the plain salmon fillets. At first I thought the salmon was oversmoked, but the day after I think I rather enjoy it. However, next time I would cut back a bit for those who prefer a less smoked product.[p]Next time I might try a mixture of rock salt and dark or amber maple syrup for more of a "Canadian" style lox.[p]Ottawa_egger

Comments

  • Ottawa_egger,
    GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Have to try this when I get my next egg.

  • Bob-OBob-O Posts: 211
    Ottawa_egger,[p]Thanks for sharing
  • Ottawa_egger,
    nice job.... i love the weight... the food police are comin' for ya.... lol happy new year bro.. rr

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Susan Egglaine,
    just feed the dryer vent into a cardboard box. it's low temp. no fire hazard. you just need a second chamber made from anything that will fill with smoke and vent it out a small hole.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stike,
    Thanks, looks like a fun winter project!
    Just rain here, no snow yet.

  • Clay QClay Q Posts: 4,435
    Ottawa_egger,
    Very nice step by step. Winter is a good time to smoke fish, eh.
    I'd like to try smoking fish, maybe with herring from Lake Superior. Going up there next week and I'll be eating fish until I bust. Perhaps I'll bring some home and give this a try.

  • looks great any chance you could submit that to the recipe section? so i don't have to go searching for it when i am ready thanks bill
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