We're having friends and neighbors over for a housewarming party this weekend so I'm busy as hell cleaning and cooking during naps. And let me tell you, I've never been more efficient with my time. EVER.
So I'm brining the salmon I'll be smoking tomorrow. I decided to do two different brines since we have four sides of wild sockeye. The traditional brine is equal parts kosher salt and brown sugar, with several cups of water and sometimes a little worcestershire or soy sauce or both (today I did both, using about a Tbs of each).
The other brine is the "Ol Tyme Whiskey Smoked Northwest Salmon" I found on this site. Ed and I are suckers for anything with Old or Tyme or Whiskey in the title. Good thing I married him, huh?
1 Qt. of distilled water***I used tap water
1 1/2 cup of jim beam Whiskey***I used Canadian Club because Ed didn't want me using the Makers Mark for obv reasons
1/2 cup of brown sugar
4 tsp. of non-iodized salt (canning salt)***I used kosher
1 tsp. of Garlic powder
1 tsp. of fresh ground black pepper
The key thing about smoking salmon--besides very low, slow smoking--is taking the salmon out of the brine after 12 hours (longer if you want, but overnight generally works) and letting it dry in the fridge. What happens is the salmon develops a sort of dense texture. Whereas you could stick you finger right into the flesh of a raw piece of salmon, after it comes out of the brine and dries in the refridgerator for 3-4 hours it gets this resistant texture. I think that it's a pretty key step that I could see skipping if I was in a hurry, but I think the end product would suffer. So you basically need to start brining the day before you want to smoke your fish, then, the morning of, take the fish out of the brine, put it on a platter or plate and stick it (uncovered) into the fridge to dry. By early afternoon you'll be ready to smoke.
So the salmon's in the fridge in the two brines and I'm making my prep list (a habit from my 3 years in catering kitchens). Here's the menu for Saturday:
Smoked Salmon 2 Ways
Ed's BBQ Chicken Thighs
Caramelized Onion Dip ala Ina Garten (LOOOVE this)
Ali's Incredibly Addictive Bean Dip
Summer Panzanella with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives, Garbonzos, Pine Nuts and Rosemary Bread
Assorted cheese and locally made salamis
Jenny's (my sister) Sweet & Spicy Meatballs (which I OD'd on last Christmas they're so good)
Ed's Homemade Sangria
and more. I'll be posting recipes when I have time. Happy almost-Friday.