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May 1998 Issue
Cooking in the Great Outdoors
by Philip R. Gantt
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Smoked Salmon This particular recipe is really for Lox. Lox is a lightly cold smoked salmon fillet. The secret to making good lox is to use very fresh salmon, that is, use fish that is no more than 8 hours old and which has been kept very cold. Silver or red salmon is preferred, but any type of salmon or steelhead may be prepared in this manner. For best results, do not use a fish which has been frozen. Follow this recipe explicitly for an excellent result.
  • 1 filleted side of fresh ocean caught salmon (about 4 pounds)
  • ½ gallon cold water
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 lb. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. Wright's Liquid Smoke
Mix the water, salt, sugar and liquid smoke, making sure to dissolve all of the sugar and salt. Immerse the side of salmon into the liquid and allow to soak for only 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes. Prepare a small fire with oak or alder wood in a covered barbecue grill and scoop the coals to one side of the grill. The fire should not be very hot. Briquettes may be used, but if so, make sure the briquettes are completely covered with ash before processing the fish. When using briquettes, use only about 12 briquettes for the fire and ignite the fire with cardboard or bits of wood rather than lighter fluid which may impart an unpleasant taste to the fish.

Put one or two pieces of moist oak bark or a handful of moist alder chips and one dried and moistened corn cob on top of the coals. Make sure the corn cob does not have any kernels on it or this will impart an unpleasant bitter flavor to the fish. Place the fish, skin side down, on the opposite side of the grill from the heat. Do not allow any part of the fish to be placed directly over the coals. Cover the grill and allow the smoke to circulate for no more than 30 minutes.

The fish may then be carefully removed and refrigerated to cool. The fish should not be "cooked". Rather, the appearance should be more like raw fish. Any remaining bones may be picked out. Layers of the salmon flesh may now be peeled off and arrange on a platter for serving with bagels, cream cheese, or eaten plain. Sushi fans will love this recipe by rolling some steamed rice in the peeled salmon layers, slicing and serving with soy sauce.

By using a longer smoke process, a different type of product will result, yet equally tasty. When smoking other types of fish, a warmer and longer smoke is preferred. However, I never smoke my fish longer than 3 to 4 hours as this may result in the fish becoming more like jerky than smoked fish.

A warmer smoke may be achieved by using more coals or wood for the fuel. Just make sure that the fish is not placed directly over the heat. Always keep a close eye on the fish when using a warm smoke as it will not take long for the fish to become "overcooked", dry and rather strong tasting of wood rather than fish.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 60 minutes

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