Holiday Traditions: Smoked Salmon

The Holiday’s are upon us!  One of the traditions my father introduced
to our family was smoking salmon.  He would spend a couple of weekends
prior to Christmas every year smoking salmon and delivering a plate to
our friends and family for Christmas morning. Nothing is better than a
cup of coffee, bagel and smoked salmon while your kids open presents
from Santa. Here is his recipe for you or your family to enjoy. I will
be making my first holiday batch this weekend.

Step 1: Buy the Salmon:
Costco
has a great selection of Salmon at a reasonable price. If you are one
who cares about farmed or wild, I am not
sure if the Salmon at Costco is farm raised or fished from the sea.

Step 2: Prepare the Salmon in a Brine solution:
In
order to create a moist and tasty piece of smoked salmon you will need
to marinate the Salmon in a brine solution for 24-36 hours. I am told,
there is not a lot of difference in the taste based on time after 24
hours but there is a noticeable difference if marinated less than 24
hours. Here is the brine solution that my father uses.

Brine solution
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of salt (Kosher salt is better)
Pint
Jar with water with warm water not too warm because this will cook the
salmon. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar in the solution.
Put Salmon in dish and add solution
Add an additional pint of water to the dish
Cover the dish and put in the refrigerator overnight

Step 3: Prepare the smoker
Either
a electric or charcoal smoker will do for smoking. However, if you want to obtain the right temperature and
keeping your Salmon moist then use boiling
water in the water bowl. You need to think carefully about which
order your put things into the smoker. It is recommended that you get
your charcoal or heat source working first, then the water and then
place the Salmon on to the rack. You can use your window in the smoker
to add wood chips once the fish is smoking. Otherwise you will have
smoke in your face as you place the salmon onto the smoker. Make sure
you soak the woodchips at least for 60 minutes prior to adding them to
the fire. You don’t want them burning immediately and you don’t want
them too wet that they cool your fire.

Step 4: Smoke the Salmon
You
should check the salmon after 2 hours to ensure that things are going
well. However, you don’t want to keep checking very often because it
will take the heat out of the smoker. The Salmon should take 4-5 hours
to be complete. It should be done when the meat looks orange and
flakes. The water should mostly be gone when you are done with the
smoking. If it goes faster you may have too hot of a heat source.

Step 5: Serve
My
father always served his smoked salmon with mini bagels and a
lemon-onion cream cheese. Here is the skinny on where and how to make
it. You can pick-up your mini-bagels at either Costco or Trader Joes.
The cream cheese can be picked up at Smart & Final but you will also
need onions and lemons to complete the recipe. Zest a lemon and combine
cream cheese with onions into a mixer and blend the ingredients to taste.

Cut the Salmon up into 1/3 pieces. Place on a plate with the mini-bagels cut in half and serve with the cream cheese.

You
can store the salmon in the refrigerator after smoking up to 2 weeks.
Remember this is how they used to store meat in the old days.

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