Cold smoking is a process where food is smoked for a long period at lower temperatures. Unlike hot smoking where the temperature is around 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold smoked salmon has a mild and delicate taste. It also has a pinkish hue to it, which makes it quite popular in the world of sushi and other Asian cuisines.
The process can be done with an electric smoker or without any fancy equipment or smoker, just by following some easy steps and using common household items.
This article will show you how to cold smoke salmon in an electric smoker in the comfort of your own home.
Why Cold Smoke Salmon?
Smoked salmon is a delicacy that is made from cold-smoking fish. It is an important part of Scandinavian cuisine and has been popular for centuries.
– We can serve Smoke Salmon as an appetizer or starter for any meal, or even as a main course!
– It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, midnight snacks…you name it!
– The most common flavors are salt and black pepper, but you can also experiment with other spices like dill or juniper.
– You can enjoy smoked salmon with bread like rye bread, pumpernickel bread, and whole wheat bread. – It goes well with crackers, cream cheese, and capers too!
Cold Smoked Versus Hot Smoked Salmon
Cold smoking is a form of food preservation. The cold smoking process was invented in Scandinavia and became a popular way to preserve fish there in the 19th century. Typically, low-temperature smoke is used. Cold smoking imparts flavor and seals the external surface of the food, which prevents spoilage from microbes or mold growing inside it.
Cold smoked salmon is not cooked and is cured with salt and smoke. That’s why salt and smoke are used as the two most common forms of preservation. Unlike hot smoked, cold smoking does not use heat to cook or cure the fish before it is eaten.
What Salmon Can You Smoke?
Wild and farmed salmon and steelhead make good smoked fish for a variety of reasons. Wild salmon and steelhead tend to be bigger and have more oil than their farmed counterparts. Atlantic Salmon is also a great choice.
Choose Frozen Salmon- How to choose Salmon for Cold Smoking
Frozen fish is a great choice for cold smoking. It is recommended that seafood be frozen at below 0°C in order to kill any parasites that are found in raw fish.
Freezing does not affect the quality of smoked fish – in fact, the act of freezing the fish also causes the water inside it to expand and break some of the cells. This is actually good because once it thaws completely, all that liquid can drain out nicely. Now the brining solution can permeate the flesh much more easily, making the process quicker and easier.
If you self-confidently fillet a salmon and would like to get started with cold smoking at home, we recommend starting with a whole salmon.
When you buy a whole salmon from the grocery store, look at the eyes. The eyes of a fish can tell you what kind of condition it’s in. The eyes should be bright and clear to indicate the fish is fresh. If they’re dark and murky, it may be on its way to being rotten.
Fish can have dark spots in their mouth or gills, which might mean it is decaying. Just be sure to ask your fishmonger for help before purchasing.
If you want to make life a little easier and save some time, you should invest in a quality salmon fillet with skin. One of the highest-quality options that you can find is the Coho Salmon Whole Fillet.
Preparing Salmon for Cold Smoking
1. Scale Salmon
After your salmon has thawed, start by removing the scales by using a fish scaler or knife. To remove scales, run the back of a knife on one side for as many strokes as possible. Rinse off and repeat the process until you have removed as many scales as possible.
2. Debone Salmon
If you bought a whole fish, you should fillet it before continuing into the next step. When filleting a fish, it is important to use a very sharp knife and to cut in a single fluid motion. Make sure your fingers are clean and dry, and firmly grasp the fillet and examine it with the tweezer or plier. Pin bones can be found anywhere on the fish, so always make sure to check every inch. If you find a pin bone, make sure to remove it with a tweezer.
3. Cut Salmon
Next, you’ll need to cut the fillet into long uniform strips. Many people don’t cut salmon fillets before smoking, but I recommend you do. it will essentially help the smoke penetrate the salmon better. and will ensure that it cooks more evenly and gives you even textures throughout your meat. Keep the skin intact as the process goes on.
4. Brine Salmon Before Cold Smoking
To brine your salmon, you first need to dip the fillet pieces into a solution of salt and water. Two tablespoons of salt per gallon of water are enough to get the desired result. I recommend using cold water and the temperature should be around 35-40°F (1.5-4.5°C).
At around 35-40°F (1.5-4.5°C), the salt will do its job by pulling moisture out of the meat and curing it against bacteria. Brining is a form of food preservation involving the introduction of salt and other seasonings into water. The process is simple, the fish is immersed in salt for several hours or overnight. Seasoning fish with salt helps to lock in moisture.
Brining the salmon in saltwater before smoking it can help to both enhance the flavor and retain moisture. The saltwater will also help to cure the skin of the salmon, which means it’s less likely to dry out during smoking.
Brining the salmon before cold smoking is an easy way to give the salmon a natural pink color.
To ensure the best results, allow your salmon to brine overnight. Afterward, rinse off any excess salt and pat it dry.
5. Cure Salmon for Cold Smoking
Curing and brining are two different ways of storing meat. Brining is the process of soaking meat in a salt-water solution before cooking. This solution replaces the juices that would otherwise be lost as the meat cooks and can reduce cooking time by up to 25%. Curing is the combination of preservation techniques such as adding salt and sugar. The salt will help to draw out moisture from the meat, making it a tasty treat.
To cure salmon, take a mix of 20% molasses sugar and 80% Himalayan salt. I recommend also including brown sugar (or other types if you don’t have any on hand).
Add one-third of the curing mix to your larger baking dish. Take the fillet pieces and spread them evenly in the dish. Carefully place the fillet in the dish, leaving about half an inch of space from the edge of the dish. For those of you who have cut their fish fillet into pieces before, it is best to allow around half an inch between each piece.
6. Store Salmon in the Fridge
Place your cure mix and fish fillet in the fridge for at least 24 hours before you cook them. The length of time it takes for the ingredients to soak up the liquid and flavor is up to you.
How to cold smoke salmon – Step by Step Guide
Now you can start prepping your smoker. But, if you have a charcoal or a wood smoker, then it might not be right for this dish. They don’t allow for precise temperature control, which is crucial for cold smoking salmon.
if you’re cold-smoking salmon, a higher level of temperature control is needed and the electric smoker is the best one for the job.
Smokers that operate with gas or charcoal can reach temperatures over 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the electric smoker provides consistent temperature control, so there are no worries about fluctuating heat levels.
We think that the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker is the best electric smoker for most people. It keeps food nice and moist while having a clever wood chip tray system & a low price.
1. Start an Electric Smoker
Ideally, you want to have a smoker that is set to an internal temperature of 80°F before starting the process. In this case, start by lighting your smoker and preheating at 80F.
If you have a grill plus smoker combo and have the precise temperature control, this would work as well- Even though many find it difficult to find the best smoker or grill that suits their needs, we provide a guide to help you determine which smoker and grill will best suit your lifestyle.
2. Smoke Salmon in an Electric Smoker.
The moment you have determined this is the right temperature for your fish, open up the grill and add your fish fillet or fish strips. The cold smoke salmon temperature should be roughly around 80-90 F.
Allow the fish strips to sit evenly on the wire racks, making sure they’re not overlapping or pushing up against each other. In addition, leaving enough space between the strips and the surface of your smoker is also a must.
How long to cold some salmon? A good smoking process for salmon will last about 6-7 hours – but the real key will be that it’s lost around 15-20% of its weight during cooking.
We should maintain the cooking temperature for the entirety of 6-7 hours. Any deviation from 80°F will not be as good as you want, but anything over that temperature is a big mistake.
3. Cool and Enjoy Cold Smoked Salmon
Once the fish has fully smoked, set the fillet pieces onto a new dish. You can check on the color and the texture of the salmon to see if it has been smoked for long enough.
One might be tempted to try it, and you’re completely safe to eat, and it should taste great! However, it’s actually best if you store it in the fridge before you eat. The flavor will improve after 4-6 hours.
Once the salmon is ready, use a sharp knife to cut it diagonally into paper-thin slices
If you need to store the cold smoked salmon, I recommend freezing it and keeping it in a vacuum-sealed container in your refrigerator. If you would like to store it for longer, then the freezer will be the best option for you and it should last up to one year.
The question, “How to Cold Smoke Salmon in an Electric Smoker?” should no longer leave you bewildered.
With the above steps in mind, you’ll be able to cold smoke just about any type of salmon you can imagine. And when it’s done, the taste will linger in your mouth for hours to come.
Also, read How To Smoke Cheese
How long does cold smoked Salmon last?
People enjoy smoked salmon for its rich flavor and diverse uses. But, how do you know how long it will last? It all depends on the smoking process, the packaging, and whether or not it has been opened.
Store smoked salmon for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Unopened packages can last that long, but be aware that they need to be consumed within 7 days of opening them.
What’s the best wood for cold smoking Salmon?
Wood is one of the most important parts of the smoking process. Without the right wood, your salmon will not be good.
There are many types of woods that work well, so it has been difficult to decide on a favorite. One option for cold smoking salmon is applewood. Applewood is a great choice because it does not have a strong flavor and it also contains a lot of natural sugars which will add sweetness to your smoked fish.