Have you ever tried candied salmon? If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out! Sweetened smoky salmon is so good, you’ll want to make a large batch so you will have some left later. It really is more candy than fish.
I don’t think I’d ever want to pay store prices, candied salmon comes with a pretty hefty price tag (but worth the cost).
I love the process of doing these types of things myself, so I couldn’t justify buying it!!
Everyone has there own way to make candied salmon, this is just one of ours.
We used a hot smoke this time – it isn’t cold enough here yet to do a true cold smoke.
First thing you’ll need is a fish.:) I caught a 15 pound sockeye and had Kevin butcher it for me (he is better at slicing things evenly sized and shaped, don’t tell him I said so…).
He cut it into evenly sized strips.
For the cure, we mixed:
1 cup coarse salt (non iodized)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
You could also use honey or birch syrup. Remember, store bought isn’t necessarily what it claims to be with any of these things. Most of the time, you get flavored corn syrup (yuck).
In a large plastic container, we put a layer of brine, then placed the fish strips skin side up before pouring remaining brine over top.
If it’s not enough to cover, make more cure or use smaller containers. The fish should be completely submerged. It can be done in several smaller containers and use each container to experiment with flavorings and timing. Longer brining times will give you a saltier flavor.
I left this in the fridge for about 8 hours.
Rinse the kinda yucky looking sludge (a.k.a. the cure) off the fish. Pat dry. (I used an old tea towel.)
Next, I laid an old clean towel over the table and set up a fan.
I placed gatorade lids to hold the wire racks up off the towel and provide space for airflow.
The fish stayed on the wire racks for 3 or 4 hours. The idea is to form a tacky skin on it, known as a pellicle. This helps smoke adhere to the fish.
Once tacky, it’s ready for the smoker. (This is also when I thought to start taking pictures!)
We use a Bradley smoker. It has an attachment for wood ‘pucks’, but we rarely use that.
Instead a tin packed full of alder and maple chips (we chipped it ourselves) is placed in the bottom of the smoker. Every couple of hours, these chips are dumped in the fire pit outside and replaced with fresh ones.
For the first hour and a half, we just smoked the fish using no heat.
Then and every 1 1/2 hours afterward, the salmon is brushed with more maple syrup and returned to the smoker.
We smoked it for 5 1/2 hours more while slowly raising the temperature to 150F. (Raise it a bit every hour, then sustain for a couple hours.)
Next, they were removed from the smoker and brushed with syrup once more before being returned to dry and cool on the wire racks (No fan this time.).
What we didn’t immediately eat are stored in freezer bags in the deep freeze.