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|• 4 lb Salmon filet|
|• 1 ½ Cup Canning Salt|
|• ½ Cup Brown sugar|
|• 2 Tbs Molasses|
|• 2 Oz Tequila|
The salmon preparation starts with the brine. I really don’t measure anything but here it is. In a plastic pail (2 or 3 gallons) I will fill it to about ¾ full of water. I like that size pail because it fits into the refrigerator. Add canning salt starting with about a 1 ¼ cup and mix it into the water. I will then add salt until a raw egg almost floats. Add about a handful of brown sugar, ½ cup or so. Add a tablespoon or two of molasses. On occasion, I add a couple of shots of tequila for an interesting flavor.
The filet(s) should be trimmed up, clean and fresh if possible. Salmon doesn’t freeze too well even if it was frozen in a vacuum bag. So fresh is best. With the availability of fresh salmon in the stores and the prices often less than $10 per pound it is worth it to buy a fresh filet for a special occasion. Don’t ever try and figure what salmon cost per pound if you’re going to catch them on your own. $10 per pound is pretty reasonable. Submerge the salmon in the brine. Put the pail in the refrigerator and let it soak for 24 hours, give or take.
Take the salmon out and rinse in cold water. Place the salmon filets on paper towel to wick any moisture off the filet. I put a fan on the filets and let them air dry for an hour of two before putting them in the egg. You will get a better color that way.
When the filets are dry I season them. You can sprinkle them with Cajun seasoning, fresh gound black pepper, even maple syrup or molasses. Black pepper seems to be the favorite.
12 to 24 hours ahead of time, you’ll need to prepare your wood chips. I use apple wood. I use a couple of good handfuls of chips and if I have it, some sawdust. I soak it in beer or water.
I prepare the egg by putting in about ¾ batch of charcoal and get it going to about 1/3 to ½ burn. At that point I add the apple wood. I squeeze the liquid out of the sawdust if I’m using it. I don’t worry too much about the temp. at this point because the wet chips and sawdust will take some of the heat out of the fire. I immediately invert the plate setter, place the grill on top and put the fish on.
Close the top and bottom dampers to ¼ inch. Put an electronic thermometer in the top. The temp. should be around 175 F. I let it slowly build to 200 to 210 F. That is the target. I start closing the dampers from there to maintain the temp. in the 200 F range.
The fish will smoke fairly quickly. At about 1 ½ hours the fish will be done. I may let the temp. creep up a little at the end if a dryer smoked fish is desired. Generally I leave the fish on a little less than 2 hours. You can always tell if it is completely cooked by pulling on a pin bone in the front portion of the filet. It should come out easy and a tiny bit of clear juice should come out of the hole.
Remove the fish to a wire rack to cool. Make sure it is well back from the counter edge because the dog likes smoked salmon too. ENJOY!
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