Having made gravlax on number of occasions it was only a matter of time before I went the extra mile and actually got round to making smoked salmon.
Smoking salmon is relatively simple and involves four steps: salting (5 hours), curing (24 hours), smoking (4-12 hours) and resting (24 hours). This may seem like a long time, but bear in mind that the process is relatively hands off. Also, the end results are definitely worth it.
I was incredibly proud of this batch, and I honestly found it superior to any supermarket salmon I’ve tried and better than that of many ‘artisan’ smokers.
The first thing you need to do is salt the salmon. Cover the salmon in a 70/30 salt/sugar mix for 5 hours. Make sure you do this in a non-metallic container and that the salmon is completely covered. At this stage you can add any flavours that you want such as dill, lavender, heather flowers or thyme. I opted for a plain cure as I really wanted the smoke to take centre stage.
Once you have salted the salmon, wash off any remaining cure mix and pat dry. The salmon needs to be left for 24 hours for it to cure. This should be done in a cold place with some air circulation. If your fridge isn’t too crowded you can leave it in there.
Next step is smoking. This really depends on personal taste and how smoky you want it. I opted for 8 hours which I felt left a distinctive flavour without overpowering the salmon. The standard wood to use is oak but you can use whichever you feel would work best. Strong smokes like hickory should be avoided as more subtle woods such as alder and beech generally lend themselves better to fish. I opted for oak dust made from old whisky barrels for extra Scottish points.
After smoking it’s really vital that you let the fish rest. I know it’s difficult not to tuck straight into it but it’s important to let all the smoke percolate through the fish properly and this can take up to 24 hours. I found the best way was put the salmon back in the fridge – wrapped up in greaseproof paper – and leave it there overnight.
Once rested the salmon should be ready for slicing. It’s best to use a long and very sharp knife. Then you can just cut long slivers off.
Use as you would any normal smoked salmon that you would buy in the shop!
If you want to know how to make a cold smoker please click here.