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I have been extremely busy the past couple days canning and smoking salmon. My husband has spent many hours at the personal use dipnet fishery that is only open for three weeks when the sockeye or red salmon are coming into the river by the thousands. Our family is allocated 55 fish by this method and more by rod and reel. Once he brings the fish home he spends hours cleaning and filleting to get them ready for me.
So far, I’ve canned 32 pints of salmon, made a triple batch of the first recipe below. I’ve finished smoking nearly half and half an hour ago put in most all the rest. I still have a rack or maybe two to smoke tomorrow. I’ve also got at least one more canner full of fish to process before I drive to Anchorage tomorrow.
Here is my smoked salmon recipe from the Cooking Alaskan cookbook:
Smoked brown-sugar cured salmon
Prepare a salt mixture by combining 2 cups salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 T white pepper (I use about 1/2 T. of cayenne instead), 1 tablespoon each - crushed bay leaves, allspice, crushed whole cloves or 1 1/2 t ground cloves, and mace.
Dredge filleted salmon in mixture to collect as much as will cling to the flesh. Leave for 6 to 8 hours. Rinse and scrub under running water to remove all traces of salt. Soak salmon in running or frequently changed water 4 - 6 hours. Remove from water. Place on racks to dry for six hours. You should cover the drying fish with cheesecloth to keep the flies and hornets from bothering the fish. If weather is damp dry for 10 hours.
Start fire and let it burn down to coals. Smoke fire should not be over 90 degrees. Smoke fish for 8 hours, then build up a dense smoke and spritz coals with a water-filled spray bottle when necessary, keeping temperature below 100 degrees. It is best to keep the fire going continuously for the 24 hours*, but if you must let the fire die at night, start again in the morning. When finished, the fish is almost tender enough to spread with a knife.
If you are going to can the smoked fish, limit the dense smoke to 4-7 hours or until the flesh surface is light brown. The canning process will intensify the flavor.
My additions: About 2 hours before finishing baste fish with warm honey. Add one more pan of chips as you put the fish back in the smoker.
When I can the smoked salmon, I put the fish in the half-pint jars and then cover with V-8 juice or tomato juice before pressure cooking. It's really good! Enjoy!
My brother Dan's Smoked Salmon Recipe
Make brine: 3 1/2 c. pickling & canning salt dissolved in 1 gallon of water. Soak cut up salmon in brine for one hour. Remove from brine. Give a light rinse of cool water. Lay salmon pieces on paper towels to dry for one hour.
Mix 1 pound pickling and canning salt and 2 pounds brown sugar very well. Layer into large container some mix, salmon, mix, salmon, etc. Finish with a layer of mix. Put in cooler on ice or in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
Rinse well each piece so salt & brown sugar is removed. Dry somewhat with paper towels, place salmon on smoker racks and put in refrigerator for 6 hours or if cool weather you can air dry for 1 1/2-2 hours (sticky to the touch).
Put in the smoker for 6 hours using about 2 1/2 pans of wood chips. Take out and baste with warm honey. Return to smoker for 3 hours using another pan of chips. Remove from smoker and enjoy.
To smoke for canning - just smoke for three hours and use 2 pans smoke. Can adding a little water and 1/4 t salt - OR use V-8 or tomatoe juice for the liquid.
SIZE and THICKNESS of salmon may require more or less smokiing time.
Sure hope you enjoy these recipes.
*RECIPE UPDATES: With the newer electric smokers, the smoking process may be shortened by 1/3 to 1/2 the time. Take a thick piece out of the smoker at the halfway point, break it open and see how close to being cooked it is. Then judge how much more time you will need.