Smoked Salmon Method/Recipe
Hi, looking for some tips - have some beautiful red fillets. Am used to smoking meats, and fish. However, I am looking to make "squaw candy" (sorry) style. I have been sucessful with getting a teriyaki style piece of smoked fish. Which was ok but I want that ultra chewy - sweet fish I was raised on. I am cutting fish into strips. Using a shoyu based marinade with lots of brown sugar, little garlic. Marinated for about 3 hours 1st time ,am thinking overnight??Smoked (hot smoked don't know temp) about 3 hours it seemed done- but am thinking this time should be longer , smoke temp lowered. This recipe was always guarded and rarely well duplicated....anyone? Anyone ?
Thanks for your help
Maybe the shoyu is the problem?, I bet everyone used Kikkoman back in the day. Its saltier and maybe cures the meat partially that way, creating the chewiness?
Our recipe is equal parts brown sugar and salt - layer with the fish in a plastic container and let rest at least overnight. Then pull out, rinse and lay on racks to dry. Applehome is correct in that this is a key step. Hot smoke for 4-8 hours depending on conditions (if its cold when I'm smoking, it takes longer). Sprinkle with cracked black pepper or brush with the liquid of your choice about halfway thru.
I cure in salt first, then marinate for flavor, then smoke. The night before, I take the pieces of fish and rub lots and lots of kosher salt into them and let them sit in the salt for at least 30 minutes - up to an hour. Then I take them and rinse very, very well. You'll see that the texture changes have occurred already - it is rubbery and somewhat stiff - the cells have ruptured and the water has been drawn out. Next, I'll soak in the shoyu marinade (lots of sugar, same as yours) overnight. In the morning, I'll rinse very well, then let dry on a rack to form what's called the "pellicle" - an even and deep sheen, all over - tales about an hour or two. Only then do I smoke - at no more than 200, for 1-2 hours for the chewy form, (depends on the thickness of the pieces). About an hour gives you a more hard-smoked, flaky form.
The pre-brining and the forming of the pellicle are key. Short cuts make lousy product.
Have you thought about curing the fillets first? I make grav lax, starting with a blend of salt, brown sugar,white sugar, pepper, cayenne, and dill (maybe you can leave out the dill). Rub the fillets with this blend, wrap in saran, weight down in the fridge for 3 days (on a tray as water will leak out), turning once in a while and voila.
The cured salmon is ready to eat, has quite a chewy texture, darkened in color, and is slightly sweet. I love it as is, but my nephew swears by grilling it. Maybe smoking it will produce the results you want?