The bacon of fish – smoked salmon

After many years of eating and making smoked salmon, we finally found the *perfect* recipe, which is as follows:

Makes enough brine for 5 pounds of fish.

Prep Time: 24 hours, almost all of it passive in the fridge.

Cook Time: 6 hours, depending on your smoker’s temperature and how smoky you want your fish

  • 5 pounds salmon, trout or char
  • 1 quart cool water
  • 1/3 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt (about 2 ounces of any kosher salt)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup birch syrup or maple syrup
  • More birch or maple syrup for basting

The recipe is from the most amazing food blog – Hunter . Angler . Gardener . Cook



We were lucky enough to get a great deal on salmon ‘ends and pieces’ from a neighbor that are just right for turning into smoky/tender/chewy bits of awesomeness. Once the brining process is done, the salmon needs to form a pellicle (the wiki explains it best).


After a day of gentle breezes in the shop, the salmon pieces get basted with more maple syrup. The orginal recipe called for birch syrup, but we didn’t get that crazy.

salmon3Whenever we run the smoker, we also load up the top with slabs of Tillamook cheddar. The box that the smoker came in fits nicely over the top, capturing the smoke as it leaves the warm part of the smoker, adding all the smoky goodness without overheating the temperature-senstitive cheese.

salmon4Here is one batch of smoked salmon chunks. It was colder outside, and we used pans of cherry and apple wood for the smoke, about 8 hours of smoking, then resting overnight.

salmon5The next batch it was about 5-10F warmer out, which made the salmon cook a bit more for a drier texture. We used alternating pans of cherry/apple and alder wood chips, and let it rest overnight. Both versions are very tasty. One more tender and sweet, and the other closer to salmon jerky and more savory. We still have another 10 lbs to smoke, and are so happy to have a freezer full of healthy, local, food.



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