If you think smoking your own salmon is too intimidating, have no fear. Although you may prefer to avoid that particular cooking adventure, you can smoke salmon in your backyard. In fact, you should do so. It is a great way to bring friends and family together. If you are still apprehensive, the following guide will lay out the basics for how to smoke salmon like a pro.
About Smoking Salmon
Smoking salmon should not be intimidating, but it does require preparation. You will need to make sure you have specialized smoking equipment. For starters, you will need a smoker. While the entire process length varies, if done certain ways, it can be more time consuming.
Still, your involvement will be minimal and quick, much like learning how to smoke salmon. After all, the brine is ready within minutes. Further, the fish preparation is brief. If you live with another person, they can also turn the salmon a few times in the brine or occasionally check the heat.
Different Ways to Smoke Salmon
Hot Smoking Salmon – The first method is the most common for smoking salmon. It requires less time than when you prepare cold-smoked salmon. You should hot smoke salmon at 120 degrees to 175 degrees in a smoker. Smoke the salmon for about four to six hours until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees. If you have a specialized smoker, many people find that hot smoking is preferable. Still, if necessary, you can discover how to smoke salmon using a weber grill. If you are looking to taste a fully, smoky flavor, make sure you hot smoke salmon. You will also enjoy a firmer texture than if you cold-smoke a salmon.
Cold-Smoking Salmon – If you are willing to commit more time – and let’s face it, the pandemic has provided us with plenty of it – try cold-smoking salmon. You will smoke the salmon fillets for around 12 to 18 hours. You will cold-smoke the salmon at a lower temperature. Generally, the temperature never exceeds 90 degrees. The lower temperature gives the salmon a soft and pliable texture. Once cold-smoked, your salmon can be sliced extremely thin. Unlike hot smoked salmon, it will not flake nearly as much. Since the typical heating range is 68 to 86 degrees, you cannot cold-smoke on your gas grill. The grill cannot handle such low temperatures.
Best Types of Salmon to Smoke
There are different benefits of using specific species of salmon when learning how to smoke salmon. The most popular variety is king salmon. The specific variety has the highest oil content, which helps it absorb flavor well. It also holds up well when under high-heat cooking methods.
The other popular types, starting with the most favorable, are sockeye salmon, chum salmon, and coho salmon. For sockeye salmon, its texture is firmer than king salmon. So, while king salmon is the most popular, sockeye is technically the best option for hot-smoked salmon.