1. Food

How to Smoke Salmon

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Smoking the Fish
The Finished Product

The Finished Product

Hank Shaw

Now you are ready to smoke your fish. Keep in mind we are "hot" smoking fish here, not cold-smoking. Cold smoking is the kind of fish you get in packages from Scotland; it takes very special equipment and at least 2 days of smoking to do this. Our hot-smoked fish will be preserved better than a fresh fish, but it will still spoil faster than a cold-smoked fish.

That said, you still do not want high temperatures. I smoke my fish at around 140 degrees at the most, although the smoking box rarely spends more then 30 minutes at that temperature -- it rises throughout the smoking process.

What wood is the right wood? This is a very contentious subject. Everyone has a favorite. I happen to have access to almond and apple wood, so I use those. Almost anything goes, except for treated wood and pine; pine contains resins that will make your fish taste bitter. Here are a few common woods for fish:

  • Alder
  • Hickory
  • Apple
  • Oak
  • Any other fruit or nut wood

How long? Again, depends on temperature and the bulk of your fish. About an hour for thin fillets, as much as four hours for big slabs of sturgeon or tuna belly.

You will get a sense of when it's done once you do this a few times. Until that happens, however, look for an internal temperature of 140 degrees -- or when the meat flakes easily.

Once the fish is smoked, you can keep it wrapped up in the fridge for 10 days, or freeze it for up to 6 months. Vacuum seal the fish if you have one.

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