Monday, March 21, 2005

Smoked Salmon

Have you ever cooked food in a cardboard box? I have, and it made the best smoked salmon I've ever tasted! It quite possible was the best food I've ever had. I enjoyed the process so much that I put a "chronicle" with pictures and stuff on the web at http://cardboardboxsmoker.freehosting.net/ .

Y'know, most people get "smoked salmon" and it just tastes like raw fish to me, and I really don't like it. I like my smoked salmon to be "meaty" and "flavorful" and, well, cooked.

Ingredients (and stuff):

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed black pepper
  • Salmon filets, de-boned (may be skinned or not)
  • Alumninum foil
  • 1 flat pan for holding the fish
  • 1 flat board that will fit in the pan
  • Weights (I used 2 milk cartons)

Directions:

Cure the Salmon. Mix the sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Liberally apply the mixture (called the "cure") to one side of the salmon, and then the other. Wrap the salmon filet in aluminum foil, keeping it tight except on the "tail" end, where it should be loosely wrapped for excess juices to run out.

Place the wrapped salmon in the flat pan and place the board on top of the wrapping. Place the weights on top of the board to help the "cure" work. Place the entire apparatus in a refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Turn the fish at least once during the process.

After the salmon is cured, unwrap the meat and rinse off the excess cure. Pat dry with a paper towel and leave to dry in a cool place. Since a refrigerator will not work for this, I placed a couple of medicine cold packs under a towel and placed the salmon on top of the towel. Let dry for 1 to three hours.

Prepare the Smoker: Remove any tape from the cardboard box. Assemble it and place it upright in an area sutiable for smoking.

Cut a trap door in the bottom of the box for side access to the burner and skillet. The hole must be large enough to reach in and control the heat of the electric burner and to take the skillet in and out

Puncture one side of the box with two holes the size of the dowels. Slide the dowels through and puncture the other side so the dowels can continue thorugh the box. These dowels will support the grill. Test the grill to make sure you have a snug fit and it can support the weight of your food.

Place the electric burner in the center of the box on the bottom. Fill up the skillet with your smoking wood chips (soaked) and slide it on top of the electric burner.

Perforate the aluminum pie plate and place it on top of the skillet (to avoid flare-ups of any juices that may fall.

Turn on the burner

Place the grill on the dowels. Puncture the side of the box with one thermometer that can extend into the food--this will display the temperature of the food as it cooks. Puncture the side of the box with a second thermometer--this will display the internal temperature of the box. Place the second thermometer at approximately the same height of the food being smoked.

Be prepared to replace or add new wood chips for smoking as needed

Smoke the Salmon: Place the salmon on the grate inside and insert one of the thermometers into the meat. As the wood smokes, the heat and smoke flavor will cook the fish. When the temperature of the fish gets to 150 degrees F, you're done!

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