This might help. I have done this smoking of salmon thing for over 20 years and have talked and helped many others. Like fishing, this smoking business can become a very complicated process.
The other day, after getting back from the coast, it was late, and we had a nice white chinook to smoke along with some extra silver filets. I needed to get the fish going and of course I was out of my usual brine mix.
So, I used a cup of rocksalt along with a gallon of water, used that as my brine, with nothing else added. Let it set for about 8 to 10 hrs, drained and let the salmon air dry for an hour or two. Took a cup of dark brown sugar, put enough water with it to make a pasty slurry and painted the fish with sugar. Let that set for a bit (~ 1hr) then smoked it over night, again about 8 to 10 hrs using alder chips.
a couple of tips learned over time
cut the filets in to 2" by 2" pieces. No larger than 3" by 3". Smaller pieces cure better and more surface area for the smoke to penetrate.
put your thickest pieces nearest the heat and the thinnest pieces further away, that way the fish will be more equal in terms of moisture.
About the worst mistake you can make is over cooking (smoking) the fish and making it jerky, unless you like fish jerky. If you do want to go the jerky route, be sure and rinse the fish extra befor smoking, the salt concentrates it self as the fish dries out more.
So check the fish about hourly after about 8 hours for texture.
add chips to the smoker on top of your chips that have just ash left, it all helps and you will get more even smoking
depending on your smoker, each 3 hrs you should add more wood chips, and after initial wood chip pan and 2 more pans dont bother adding more as your fish will be as smoked as possible.
let cool to room temp and then vacuum pack, and enjoy for the rest of the winter
this is one that I use, I perfer using the power instede of the salt. Found out the longer you keep in in the brine the dryer it is.
Freezing your fish first will help to break down the meat's enzymes making it easier to accept a brine and speeding up the curing process.
2 Cups of brown sugar
1/3 Cup of salt (pickling or coarse)
2 Tbs. garlic salt/power
2 Tbs. onion salt/power
2 Tbs. celery salt/power
2 Tbs. dry mustard
2 Tbs. coarse black pepper
2 Tbs. sesoning salt
Mix ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. As this is a dry brine recipe, no liquids should be added. You will need a large 2 inch deep pan to cure fish in. Place fillets skin side down in your pan and coat heavily with brine ingredients. Cover with a piece of foil or Saran wrap and place in refrigerator for 8-12 hours. After salmon has cured for 8-12 hours remove from refigerator and rinse fillets off in cool water. Pat dry with paper towels and place on smoker rack. If you like a stronger tasting smoked salmon as I do, you can pepper lightly and brush fillets with liquid and brine left over in the bottom of the tray you used to brine your fish. Use either alder or apple wood for smoking. Smoke to desired doneness. Depending on the size and thickness of the fillets you are smoking, it can take anywhere from 4-6 hours to smoke.
If you want garlic or pepper smoked add it to the top before smoking(little garlic goes a long ways)
I use soy, garlic, brown sugar, pepper, dill,
red pepper flakes, maple syrup, and strawberry preserves. soak for 24 hours, smoke damp. Last hour of smoking make another basting sauce of
soy, brown sugar, pepper, garlic, and strwberry preserves. Bast the fillets so they creat a carmel coating. I call it salmon candy!
For Springers I use:
appx. 1-part canning salt to 2-parts light brown sugar (taste and adjust to your liking), then dry brine overnight in a tray skin side down, light H2O rinse, set out and form pelllicle 1-3 hrs, smoke w/ALDER wood chips 4-8 hours, depending on thickness and load.
Note: Springers have such a delicious flavor, LESS seasoning IS BETTER. Enjoy the feesh!
Late Fall fish get pepper, garlic, and soy added.
The only thing I would add is don't forget your smoking fish. Rotate your racks if needed or take em out as they get done (firm to the touch) or what ever you prefer. Don't smoke to hot or to fast or to long. :cheers: Nothing worse than to raw in the middle or a rock. Practice, practice, practice.
I have always used a "wet brine" and had to rinse fillets and dry (tacky) before smoking, however a few years back while in Canada on a fishing trip I tasted the best smoked salmon I have ever had...
Talk about "pure" and "simple"... one part pickling salt to two parts raw sugar (not brown, refined, etc)sometimes hard to find. It makes it's own liquid brine by morning and you don't have to rinse. I've used this recipe a half dozen times and never been disapointed.