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Smoked Salmon and Low Temp Cooking

NautiRogueNautiRogue Posts: 99
edited February 17 in Seafood

Over the weekend, I smoked salmon for the second time.  I'm not a real fan of salmon, but my wife loves it and she thought last night's most recent BGE product was heaven!

I'll take the compliments where I can get 'em, but the truth is that I was just damned lucky that it turned out well.  The recipe that I have for smoking salmon calls for a dome temp of 150 to 160.  The first time I tried this, I figured that since I have a CyberQ WiFi, it should be no big deal to maintain this temp.

Uh huh.

I knew that I needed to get the fire established before settling down to 150 indirect, so I let it burn for a while before putting the plate setter on, closing the dome, and dropping the temp down.  The dome temp had gone to 275, so it took a while to settle into 150.  I realized that during this time, the CyberQ knew I wanted 150, so it wouldn't be doing anything and that likely, the fire would go out before the dome temp got to the set temp.  So, I tried to ease it down by setting the CyberQ temp at intervals while it dropped.  The theory worked, but it took forever. 

So, the dome was finally at 150.  I threw some Alder wood on the coals, put the salmon on the grid, and was ready to sit and watch it for the next 3 hours...  It was cold (probably in the teens), snowing, and windy... And I had to leave to run an errand for about an hour and a half.

But I had the CyberQ WiFi, right?  I ran my errand and monitored the cook from my phone.  Eventually, I watched the temp plummet.  The fan was at 100% output, but the temp was dropping like a rock.  I'm guessing a big wind came up and put out the fire, and I was nowhere near home to do anything about it.  So, I just thought that this cook was a fail and the salmon would be crap.  I gave up on monitoring any further, but when I got home, the CyberQ had continued running and had re-lit the fire!  It wasn't the best fish in the world, but it was a good try.

Yesterday's second attempt at a low-temp cook went similarly, but I was home, so when the fire died and I saw that the dome was down to 118, I went out, took the salmon, grid, and plate setter off, and re-lit the fire.  After about 4 hours on the pit, this salmon (according to my wife) was absolutely perfect!

Does anyone have any suggestions or tips for reeeeeealllly low and slow like this? 

Comments

  • Doc_EggertonDoc_Eggerton Posts: 4,057
    I have never been able to keep the fire lit below about 160.  True cold smoking is at the ambient temp, but you are really trying to push it down.  If that is what you want you may want an A-Maz-N smoking tray, or try one of the two Egg set ups.  Doing hot smoked salmon right now and the dome has been steady at 178 for about 90 minutes.

    Hot smoke for pork, at 200-250 is a piece of cake on the BGE.
    Pasquali Luciano
    Buon appetito to all the BGE family
    XLBGE, LBGE, MBGE and lots of toys

  • SGHSGH Posts: 10,747
    I had a real hard time hitting real low temps at first myself. Here is how I do it now. Fill your egg with lump by hand. All big pieces on bottom so the air holes dont get blocked. Small and medium pieces on top. Air flow is very critical when trying to hold temps below 200. Next i take 3 pieces of regular charcoal (not lump) and start it in a chimney starter and let it burn down to it is ashed over. Then i dump the 3 pieces in the middle of my lump and close the dome with the vents wide open. The temp will rise slow but that is a good thing because it makes it easy to stop it where you want. When temp hits 150 start closing vents and let it settle. My way is a bit slow getting to temp but I have had good luck with it. Hope this helps my friend.

    Location- Just "this side" of Biloxi, Ms.

    Status- Slowly going dark and fading into oblivion.

    Arsenal-Just a small wore out and broken down Weber kettle. No other means to cook at all.
  • NautiRogueNautiRogue Posts: 99

    I'm trying again today.  I liked your idea regarding the chimney starter and the briquettes, SGH, but when I went to Ace Hardware to buy them, they said that briquettes will void the BGE warranty.  The lighter fluid taste gets trapped in the ceramic.

    I'm going to start out by placing the lump by hand as you mention.  I've hand-picked each lump to ensure that they're all decent size with no ash, dust, or small pieces.

    I'll let you know how it goes!

    Oh, and BTW, here's the recipe I'm using. 

    Smoked Salmon

    Serves 8-12


    Adapted from Food Network's Alton Brown

    What You Need

    Ingredients

    For the salmon cure:
    2 salmon fillets, skin on and pin bones removed
    1/2 cups granulated sugar
    1/2 cups brown sugar
    1/3 cups kosher salt
    2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns

    For the rub:
    1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
    1 tablespoons coriander
    1 tablespoons paprika
    1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
    1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
    3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

    Equipment

    2 baking sheets
    Foil
    Plastic wrap
    Timer
    Napkins or paper towels
    Smoker
    Temperature Probe

    Instructions

    1. Prepare Salmon for Curing: The curing process removes water from the fish, and instead replaces it with the salt and sugar mixture. This adds flavor and also serves to preserve the fish and prevent spoilage.

    Get out a baking sheet large enough to hold your salmon fillets. Lay a thin sheet of foil on the baking sheet, and then lay a thin sheet of plastic wrap on top of the foil. Sprinkle a third of the cure onto the plastic wrap, roughly the length of your fillet. Lay the fillet skin-side-down onto the cure and then sprinkle another third of the cure onto the flesh. Stack the second fillet skin-side-down onto the coated flesh of the first fillet. Sprinkle the last third of the cure on top of this fillet and then cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and more foil.

    Wrap the plastic wrap and foil tightly around the fish. This will contain any oils or juices that may escape from the curing process. Set another baking sheet on top of the foil-wrapped fish and weigh it down with something heavy, like a few cookbooks or canned goods.

    2. Cure the Salmon: Refrigerate the salmon for 8-10 hours to cure. If your fillet is particulary thin (less than an inch) go for 8 hours; if it's thicker you can go up to 10 hours. Try not to cure for more than 12 hours, especially if your taste buds are sensitive to salt. It helps to set a timer to go off after 8 hours.

    3. Rinse the Salmon: When the salmon has cured, remove the fish from the fridge and unwrap the foil. You should be greeted to a bright, juicy red piece of fish. Thoroughly rinse off the fish under cold water, making sure to wash off any of the cure that hasn't absorbed into the fish.

    4. Rub the Salmon with Dry Rub: Pat both fillets dry with napkins or paper towels. Mix together the dry rub ingredients until well combined. Pat the rub onto one of the fillets to form a thin layer. Dust off any excess. Repeat with second fillet, or leave the second fillet un-seasoned to give dinner guests an option.

    5. Dry the Salmon: Allow the fillets to dry at room temperature for one to three hours to form the pellicle. This is a thin, dry, matte-like film on the surface of the fish that helps the smoke better adhere to the meat. It's hard to tell when this is done when the fish is covered with the dry rub, so just use the un-seasoned fish to judge when this process is complete or leave a small portion of one of the fillets clear of dry rub.

    6. Prepare the Smoker: Prepare your smoker as the fish finishes drying. You want your smoker to maintain a temperature of 150-160°F. This low temperature can be difficult to achieve with some smokers, so make sure you dial back the fuel a bit by adding less charcoal and hardwood than you typically would for higher temperature smoking. For fish, I prefer to use apple wood to pair nicely with the cures and rubs we've already added.

    7. Smoke the Salmon: Lay the salmon fillets side-by-side in your smoker, skin side down. Depending on how many pounds of fish you're cooking and the thickness of the fish, the smoking process can take anywhere from 1-3 hours. Cooking is complete when the salmon registers 140°F at its thickest point.

    8. Rest the Salmon: Once the fish reaches 140°F, take it off the smoker and put it on a baking sheet. Tent with foil and allow the fish to rest for 20-30 minutes. This will allow the finish to warm up another 5 degrees and let the muscles relax and juices to redistribute.

    9. Enjoy the Salmon: Finally, remove the tented foil and serve your flaky and juicy creation. The un-seasoned salmon is deliciously mild and delicate, with a clean fresh salmon taste you can only get through smoking. The spice rub has a kick of pepper that's toned down with the sweetness of the brown sugar, and finishes nicely with that herbal note of coriander. Enjoy the fish with a glass of rose wine or a cold wit beer. Have friends over to enjoy with you, or have it all to yourself — with leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.

    http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-smoked-salmon-two-ways-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-174543


  • SGHSGH Posts: 10,747
    NautiRogue-said-briquettes will void the BGE warranty


    I have never heard that before. I guess i voided mine because i have used them since i got my egg.
    Im going to ask the mother ship about using charcoal. Thanks for sharing and good luck!

    Location- Just "this side" of Biloxi, Ms.

    Status- Slowly going dark and fading into oblivion.

    Arsenal-Just a small wore out and broken down Weber kettle. No other means to cook at all.
  • DMWDMW Posts: 4,877
    @NautiRogue Most briquettes contain nasty petroleum based fillers. If you use an all natural briquette no worry in voiding warranty. Definitely don't use match light! :))
    My Facebook Place where I document my cooking
    Morgantown, PA
    XL BGE - S BGE - Blackstone Pizza Oven - 30" Steel Fire Pit w/Cooking Grid - Hasty Bake Legacy - KJ Jr - Gasser
  • NautiRogueNautiRogue Posts: 99

    OK, good news and bad news. 

    Good news first:  Placing the lump and choosing specific pieces worked perfectly!  I was able to keep the fire lit throughout the cook between 155 and 168 degrees.

    Bad news: The last time I made this for my wife, she pretty much thought that salmon was better than sex!  But the last time I made it, I didn't use the rub that the recipe calls for because we were out of coriander.  Instead of the recipe's rub, I used Dizzy Pig Raging River Rub.  She loved the DP.  This time, I used the recipe's rub, and she didn't like it as much.  I'll be using the DP rub next time.

    Thanks for the suggestion to hand-place the lump, SGH!

  • SGHSGH Posts: 10,747

    Thanks for the suggestion to hand-place the lump, SGH!

    You are more than welcome my friend.

    Location- Just "this side" of Biloxi, Ms.

    Status- Slowly going dark and fading into oblivion.

    Arsenal-Just a small wore out and broken down Weber kettle. No other means to cook at all.
  • grege345grege345 Posts: 2,073

    OK, good news and bad news. 

    Good news first:  Placing the lump and choosing specific pieces worked perfectly!  I was able to keep the fire lit throughout the cook between 155 and 168 degrees.

    Bad news: The last time I made this for my wife, she pretty much thought that salmon was better than sex!  But the last time I made it, I didn't use the rub that the recipe calls for because we were out of coriander.  Instead of the recipe's rub, I used Dizzy Pig Raging River Rub.  She loved the DP.  This time, I used the recipe's rub, and she didn't like it as much.  I'll be using the DP rub next time.

    Thanks for the suggestion to hand-place the lump, SGH!


    there's a joke in there somewhere
    LBGE& SBGE———————————————•———————– Pennsylvania / poconos
  • NautiRogueNautiRogue Posts: 99
    edited March 5

    The salmon after curing with the rub applied...


    image

    The Egg starting to warm up. 

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    The hand-placed lump.

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    One filet is already done here (140 degrees).  This one took another 15 minutes.  The whole smoke was about 2:45.  I used 4 chunks of Alder wood for smoke.

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  • SGHSGH Posts: 10,747
    Looks like you nailed it! Awesome looking!

    Location- Just "this side" of Biloxi, Ms.

    Status- Slowly going dark and fading into oblivion.

    Arsenal-Just a small wore out and broken down Weber kettle. No other means to cook at all.
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