Late last week I was at Foodstuffs
(Evanston, IL location) when I saw a beautiful, 3.5-pound piece of Wild Coho Salmon in the fish case. I decided right there on the spot that I'd finally try my hand at cold-smoked salmon. I also happened to pick up a 1.5-pound piece of farm-raised salmon at Costco later in the day.
Later that day, I made a quadruple batch of cure, basically following the recipe in the book for Smoked Salmon. I did cut back on the cloves and the bay leaves a little bit and since I had 2 ounces of fresh dill in the fridge, I included it. I halved the amount of pink salt, as well*. I cured the pieces of fish simultaneously for 36 hours (also weighing them down, per the instructions in the book) and then, after rinsing them thoroughly, dried them on racks in my fridge for about 24 hours.
After the drying, I manipulated my gas-powered smoker into what I hoped would become a cold smoker. I filled the tinder box with apple and cherry wood and filled the water bowl with ice. I then started a half chimney of lump charcoal in my Weber grill. When the lump charcoal became red hot, I removed 2 very small
embers (about 1 square inch each) from the chimney and placed them on top of the wood chips in the tinder box. I closed the 2 side dampers and top damper on the smoker almost completely, leaving them only about 1/4" open. Miraculously, the embers smoldered very slowly -- and evenly -- for about 4 hours while the temperature inside the smoking chamber never went above 90 F. After the smoke finished its run, I retrieved the fillets and was delighted with the results, which actually approximated (or maybe even were) cold
-smoked!Cold-smoked salmon fillet.A closer look at the flesh, still supple and oily.In lieu of freezing the smoked salmon first, I found that my cheese knife was the best one for the task of slicing the finished product.Cold-smoked salmon on toasted blackbread with chive cheese, aka Dinner Part 1.Cold-smoked salmon on a toasted sesame bagel with chive cheese, aka Dinner Part 2.
FWIW, the piece from Costco also turned out very tasty. However, it started out much 'fishier' than the piece of Wild Coho from Foodstuffs and it ended up about the same. The finished product made with the fish from Costco also lacked the sweetness in the piece of wild fish. But, in either case, I'm delighted with the results and can't wait to make another batch. I've got a few tweaks in mind -- including removing the curing salt entirely -- and hope to give it another whirl very soon.
*Edited to add/correct info about pink salt quantity
Edited by ronnie_suburban, 14 September 2006 - 06:12 PM.