Smoking Salmon


After hauling a canoe along the infamous Angleworm portage, there’s nothing better than grabbing a forkful of smoked salmon off our dinner plate.  You want some too?  Here you go.

Smoking salmon is not hard to do. With some easy-to-follow directions and a bit of down time, you can make your taste buds say howdy-do with this recipe. Give yourself two days, with prep, to smoke the fish.

Buy fresh salmon.
This recipe should be enough for 4-6 pounds of salmon.

Prepare a brine.
4 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 stalk sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/2 chopped onion
2 smashed garlic cloves

Mix all the ingredients and pour over the salmon fillets in a non-reactive container, like plastic or glass. Let the fish cure overnight or at least 8 hours.

Air dry your fish.
Don’t skip this step. Remove the fish from the brine and set on a rack on your counter. Drying forms a pellicle or lacquer-like surface for the smoke to stick to. We keep our air temp below 65 degrees and place a fan on a low setting near the fish. Allow the fish to air dry for 2 hours. The salt in the brine protects the fish from turning nasty.

While the fish are air drying, prepare your smoker.
You will need wood lump charcoal and wood chips. We like hickory or apple chips, but other kinds of fruit wood would also work. Prepare a nice pile of charcoal in your smoker and light ‘er up. Soak the hickory chips in a bowl of water and set nearby. Once the wood lump charcoal has some good coals going, watch your temperature.  You don’t want the smoker too hot.  After the coals have been burning for about an hour, drain the hickory chips and add a couple of handfuls to the coals.  Toss in a couple more handfuls throughout the smoking process, or when you see they have burned down.

Smoking the salmon.
Add your salmon fillets. Smoke them until the internal temperature of the fillet reaches 140 degrees. This can be anywhere from one to four hours, depending on thickness. When the fillets are finished, wrap them up and store them in the fridge up to 10 days.  They can also be frozen for up to 6 months. We vacuum seal ours before a trip.

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