I have a special place in my heart for jerky. I’ve had luck making jerky out of beef, chicken, pork and even salmon. Today I’m sharing with you a recipe for smoked salmon. It doubles for smoking entire filets and slicing it thick to get some of the best (and healthiest) jerky you’ve ever had.
How To Make Smoked Salmon
The key to awesome smoked salmon, whether it be a full filet or sliced for jerky is the brining that’s done before you even turn the smoker on. I picked up 2 packages of salmon that were marked down at my local Cub Foods.
When I smoke salmon its typically for two results. 1. a nice (larger) piece of salmon that flakes apart and goes exceptionally well with crackers and a touch of cream cheese. 2. I love to slice up the salmon fillet into smaller pieces that I can throw into a plastic bag and munch on it throughout the day.
Mixing Up A Dry Brine
After you rinse and pat dry your salmon filet(s), set them aside. You’re going to create your dry brine. A brine helps pull the moisture out of meat and then allows for the meat to reabsorb that moisture with the salt/ingredients you have included within the brine. In this instance, our brine includes a bunch of brown sugar which helps add to the sweet taste.
In a large bowl, you need to mix the following ingredients:
- 1 cup curing salt (I used Morton’s)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 TBSP pepper
You want to create a layer of brine in a sealable container. Place your filets on top of this base layer and cover it with the remaining brine. Place your brine and filets in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours. I typically leave mine overnight for ease of convenience.
Once you’ve let the fish and brine rest for 4+ hours you’ll want to remove the filet from the container and rinse it underwater. Again, you’ll want to pat it dry with a paper towel. The next step is optional but I personally prefer to remove the skin from my fish. Many folks prefer to leave the skin on as it can help maintain the shape of the filet, especially if you’re going to serve it whole for a cracker/appetizer dish. You’ll see that I left the first filet whole but added an extra layer of cracked pepper to both sides of the filet. It gives it just an extra bit of spice that my family and friends enjoy.
If you intend to make jerky you can slice your filet before or after the brining is complete. I find that the brine makes the meat a bit firmer so I waited until after the brine to slide mine. If you insist on slicing before you brine you might want to suggest leaving your filet in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to make it easier to cut.
Smoking Your Salmon
Salmon, even on a smoker cooks really fast. We want the salmon to reach 140 degrees. For the salmon jerky, it took about 1.5 hours and the filet took about 2 hours. I smoked both on my Traeger at 225 degrees. Make sure you use a thermometer (I use the iGrill mini) to watch the internal temperature. You always want to cook to a final internal temperature vs being reliant on a timer. Salmon can be finicky and you definitely don’t want it to get overcooked.
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