Smoked salmon is a highly anticipated delicacy. With another successful fishing season behind us, I used a tried and true recipe to turn out several pounds worth.
Smoked salmon mousse, smoked salmon omeletes, smoked salmon on pasta, and smoked salmon on crackers are among the many great reasons to set aside a couple of days and smoke part of your catch. Once you’ve done a batch of smoked fish, it’s easy to appreciate why it’s expensive. Smoking takes time. But the results are very much worth it. There’s really not much to our favorite recipe. From year to year and batch to batch, I might vary the amount of garlic or ginger or try a new spice or seasoning. But other than that… well, here it is.
Smoked salmon pizza always draws rave reviews.
Smoked Salmon with Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar Brine
The basic recipe is 4 parts water to 1 part soy sauce with 1/4 cup sea salt for every cup of soy sauce. Figure about 1 cup brine per pound of fish. Add brown sugar, garlic and ginger to taste. White pepper, cayenne pepper, and other seasonings and spices can be added to create unique brines.
Pyrex clear glass bakeware with their plastic lids is perfect for marinating the fillets. If you’re using a Big Chief or Little Chief smoker, the metal racks fit atop the empty Pyrex containers – and with the fillets atop the racks this setup works well for drying the fillets in the refrigerator prior to smoking.
Ingredients: For eight pounds of salmon, trout, sturgeon or other fish
- 8 pounds fillets, skin on, rinsed, patted dry, cut into small pieces (a good size is about 3″ x 6″, but smaller or slightly larger is fine)
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups soy sauce (Kikkoman is our favorite)
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp ginger
- Arrange salmon fillets in glass baking dishes or similar non-reactive containers.
- Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
- Pour mixture over fillets, making sure they are covered, or until they float.
- Cover containers and marinate for about 8 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
- Remove fillets from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and arrange on racks to dry in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours (or overnight)
- Smoke fish according to your smoker’s directions with alder wood, mesquite, fruit tree or hickory chips. Check frequently, keeping in mind that air temperature will influence smoking time. Typical smoking times range from 6 to 8 hours. A slightly wet product is best suited for many of the recipes we enjoy. For straight snacking, a drier product may be preferred.
Don’t have a smoker? Excellent smoked fish can be made on a charcoal grill. I’ve done small batches on my little Weber Smokey Joe and larger batches on Weber’s larger models.
Looking for a recipe to use your smoked salmon in? Type “smoked salmon” into the search tool on this page for some great ideas.