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Cold Smoked Salmon
It is easier to cut thin slices (like you buy in the shop) from cold-smoked salmon and the dry salmon is preserved with salt and smoke.
Hot Smoked Salmon
By the hot smoked salmon technique the fish is more or less cooked in the smoker and preserved with the smoke.
Cold smoked salmon is more common than the hot smoked salmon, but the hot smoked version is perhaps even tastier.
Hot Smoked Salmon Recipe
In cold smoking, the temperature does not rise above 76 degrees Fahrenheit, but when hot smoking salmon you increase the temperature to around 200 degrees. If the core of the fish reaches a temperature above 162.5 degrees, all bacteria are eliminated. The heat also allows for a kind of crust to develop so that no fat and no flavor get lost.
The smoke flavor is achieved by smoking the fish for at least 45 minutes. This can best be done at the higher temperature. Add your smoking wood to the fire and close all of the openings so that no oxygen can get in. Leave your chimney just a little bit open for the best result. The salmon becomes brown on the outside with a light pink hue inside.
TIP: Salmon is cooked when it is releasing a white foam. These white fluids that are coming up are proteins. These polymer chains of amino acids are released by heating above 158 degrees. The salmon shrinks a little bit as the white fluid comes out. This white protein moisture browns during smoking.
Buy a salmon filet of about 2 pounds at your local fish market and feel with your fingers if there are bones in it. Go from the tail to the head. If there is something inside then take it out with a pair of pliers or tweezers.
Fill a tray with 2 gallons of water and 1 lb and 5 oz of salt. Stir in 3.5 oz of brown and 3.5 oz of fish spices. Crush a few juniper berries and a few peppercorns and put them in also. Then you can add 2 bay leaves and a dash of soy sauce. Put the salmon in the mixture of brine with the spices.
Leave to marinade for about 3 hours. (stir occasionally!)
The drying of Salmon
After this you take the salmon out of the herbal bath and rinse it off with a little cold water. Pat the salmon face dry with a paper towel and place it on a wire rack. Optionally, you can use aluminum foil or parchment paper – you only need to watch out for fire hazards. The foil or paper may catch fire if your fish is not far from the fire. Baking paper works by far the best.
Poke a few holes in the foil to let the remaining moisture run off or it will cook it a little.
The Cooking and Smoking of Your Salmon
Now place the rack in the smoker and light a nice fire in the fire tray. Start at a temperature of around 125 degrees. If the salmon looks drier after fifteen to twenty minutes, we increase the temperature to 150 and then to 200 degrees. Now you should periodically check how it is progressing, but after about fifteen minutes the fish should almost be cooked and you can bring the smoke in. Do this by adding wet wood chips or coarse shreds and close your lid. By leaving the chimney open a small crack, you get some circulation of smoke and that forces the smoke nicely into the fish.
To refresh the smoke regularly to prevent acidification, just open your lid every 10 minutes to let the smoke escape. The advantage is that the temperature drops again and the fish is not overcooked.
If the salmon is nicely browned after about 45 minutes of smoking , it is ready to be extracted. By using a spatula to spoon the salmon off of the sheet you get nice chunks for your plate , but you can also use these for a sandwich or to eat on toast. Possibly you may want to add some pepper, sea salt and lemon juice also, although this is not necessary .
You can use this recipe also for other types of fish such as char, trout , mackerel and sea bass filets . By trying it yourself, you come to surprising discoveries . To further enhance your fish you can also take a half bottle of white wine or a tasty beer and add it along with your salt mixture for a special character .