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By Chef David Buchanan
Secrets of the Tulalip Chefs 

Holiday appetizers better with home-smoked sockeye salmon


Nothing says "Pacific Northwest" better than wild salmon from our local waters. And although there are boat loads (pun intended) of salmon recipes, this is one of my favorite preparations. The reason I like this process is because of the mild salinity, touch of sugar and moist texture, which helps retain more of the salmon flavor over the dry versions.

This recipe is a snap to prepare and homemade is always better than the store bought varieties. What is available at the grocery store is often too salty and dry, so save the "salmon jerky" versions for your hiking trips!

Personally I prefer Sockeye salmon for this recipe, but other species will work equally well. For a little "twist" on the recipe, lightly coat the salmon with cracked black pepper and fennel seed after the brining process.

Smoked Salmon

Yield: 1 Pound

Step 1

1 quart water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 pound brown sugar

3 bay leaves

Step 2

1-1/2 quarts cold water

1/2 quart soy sauce light

1/4 cup fresh cracked black pepper

1 pound sockeye salmon, skin-off and pin bones removed


Place the ingredients from Step 1 in a sauce pot and heat until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to a container large enough to hold the salmon, but narrow enough so the liquid will completely cover the salmon.

Add the ingredients from Step 2 and allow the brining liquid to cool to 41° or lower. Add salmon to the brine and reserve it in the refrigerator for 1 day (18-24 hours).

Step 3

1 wood smoker

1 bag apple wood chips


Fill the smoker with apple wood chips and light it. Once it starts to smoke, remove salmon from the brine, rinse thoroughly with water and dry with paper towel.

Place fish in the smoker for 2 hours (for best results, the salmon should remain as close to 40 degrees as possible). Remove from smoker and bake to an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Reserve and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When you are ready to serve, use a thin sharp knife to carefully and slowly cut the salmon into the desired portion sizes!



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