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When I smoke salmon I'm usually after something that I can't get locally for any price I'm happy with: Candy smoked salmon. I think that fresh king salmon smokes into the best stuff on earth. Here's the recipe:
1 lb brown sugar
1 cup pickling salt (regular salt has additives to prevent clumping, don't use)
1 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons dark molasses
1/2 gallon water
3/4 cup honey,
1/4 cup water
This will make enough brine for 2 10-pound salmon, filleted and cut into 1" strips. I use 1 gallon ziploc bags, and pour half the brine into two bags after I've filled them with salmon. Let the salmon soak for 12-24 hours, refrigerated.
After soaking, put the salmon onto a rack and allow to dry to a tacky consistency, unrefrigerated. Usually an hour or two. You want the salmon to be moist to the touch but not wet. The picture below shows the salmon right after being taken out of the brine mix. if you don't let the strips dry your smoke will not stick to the meat and you won't get the good smoked flavor you want.
Brined salmon drying on a rack
I use a big chief smoker; mine is a top loading model, and it holds about 20lbs of strips at a time. I feed it with green alder chips that I get from tree service companies. You can use any wood you choose, alder is a traditional wood in the NW but apple, pear, cherry and other woods also provide a nice flavor.
My alder chip supply for smoking, in a 30 gallon garbage can.
With big strips like I use, smoking time is between 6 and 10 hours. About halfway through, when the strips are partially smoked, I brush with 3/4 cup honey and 1/4 water, and then return to the smoker until they're at the right texture. I'm looking for something similar in texture to soft leather. I don't want to make jerky, but I do want there to be some drying.
Notice that there's a piece that is a little white looking, at the left center of the photo. That's a piece of the salmon belly -- a very fatty piece of the fish. I think that it makes a really tasty smoked tidbit and that's actually my favorite part to eat. Oily and sweet and delicious.
This year I smoked 60lbs of silver salmon and 40lbs of king salmon.