to Smoke Salmon >> Cold
Smoking or Nova Lox
Cold smoking is very hard to do at home because you need to have
a smoker capable of keeping the temperature to 80 F or less. One
way to do this is to have your heat source (smoke generator) far
enough away that the smoke cools before it reaches your smoker.
- Begin with either fresh or frozen salmon. Frozen is actually
easier because some of the moisture is lost during freezing
and thawing and that is what you are going to accomplish during
the smoking process anyway.
- If the fish is not already filleted, do it now and cut into
even sized pieces. I like 2x4 inches. For larger species like
King salmon or whole fillets, puncture the skin in several places
to allow the salt to penetrate. You can also buy a hypodermic
needle for horses at a feed store and inject brine into the
thicker pieces. How to fillet
- Now, you must make a brine of salt and brown sugar and, if
you like a specific spice, go ahead and add it to the brine.
I like to mix the brine 2:1 salt to brown sugar, but if you
like a sweeter finished product, adjust it to your taste by
adding more brown sugar. You must mix enough brine to immerse
your fish in the solution completely. One way to tell if you
have enough salt is to float an egg. For 5 gallons of water
you will need 14 cups of salt and 7 cups of brown sugar. If
it floats, you have enough salt. It is about 80%. I like to
use a salometer!
- A white five-gallon bucket works well for brining fish. Place
your fish into the brine and place the bucket into refrigeration.
Leave it there for 12 hours for thinner fillets and 24 hours
for thicker fillets. Before removing from the brine, slice one
of the pieces of fish to see if the brine has completely saturated
the flesh. If not, leave it in the brine longer. Previously
frozen fish takes less time than freshly caught product.
- Remove fish from the brine and rinse under the cold running
water for 1 hour for thinner fillets and 2 hours for thicker
fillets. If you do not mind eating raw fish, try a slice to
see how salty it is.
- Remove from the rinse, rack, and place it under refrigeration
to cure for at least 12 more hours. This allows the salt to
even out. If you like dill on top now is the time to add it.
I have tried rum with good results at this point.
- Place in a smoker and set the temperature to 70 F. Smoke
until the fish has a glazed look to it. It should take about
12-16 hours if you have good air circulation.
- Take the fish out of the smoker and cool it down before vacuum
- After packaging. If the fish was not previously frozen, be
sure to freeze it for a couple of days for parasite control.
That is about all there is to smoking fish. It is a lot of trial
and error and record keeping. Being in the smoking business, I
have tried everyone’s smoking recipes and not two have been
alike. So be inventive and try to make your own favorite smoked