Here we are at the beginning of December and a good time to get ahead of the game and smoke enough salmon to see you through the festive season for canapés, starters and special breakfasts of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and Prosecco, writes Sandra Tate…
Cold smoked salmon freezes well and is there, neatly sliced in packs, and ready for when you need it – well that was the theory, No.2 son has already seen off two of those precious packs!
Curing the Salmon
My 1kg thick mid section salmon fillet yielded about 800g of amazing smoked salmon – remember weight is lost in the curing process and the skin is a leathery leftover. Prepare the fillet by running your thumb down the line of bones and then remove them one by one with tweezers. For that 1kg boned salmon fillet I used a cure made of 300g sea salt mixed thoroughly with 50g dark molasses sugar. Take a clean, dry container of a size to snugly accommodate the fish and sprinkle about a fifth of the cure over the bottom before laying the salmon skin side down into it. Spread the remaining cure mix evenly over the surface of the flesh and pat down as a crust. Cover and refrigerate overnight for around 12 hours.
The cure will now have drawn moisture from the fish and have produced molasses dark liquid around the salmon. Remove from the container and rinse very thoroughly, disposing of the remaining cure. The skin of the fish will be very firm and leathery. Pat completely dry on kitchen paper then sit skin side down of a Bradley wire rack and leave in an airy cold place for at least 3 hours to further dry the surface.
Cold Smoking the Salmon
Prepare the Bradley Smoker by setting it up with the cold smoker attachment and adding a full stack of Whiskey Oak bisquettes to the stack. Allow the smoker to be in operation long enough for the cabinet to be filled with smoke before transferring the salmon to the middle of the cabinet. Cold smoke for anything up to 10 hours – I smoked mine for 6 hours and it was perfect. Cover and refrigerate overnight then slice as thinly as you can with a fine, very sharp, blade and lay onto grease-proof paper in preferred quantities then wrap and freeze – oh, and reserve some to eat immediately!