Fish Smoking

We had a dry day with another forecast and all our smoke fish had been given away so time to smoke more fish.   I thawed all the coho we caught in Craig plus the king salmon back bones I’d saved from the April trip that had burst their vac pack bag seals.   I thawed all the salmonberry juice left in the freezer I’d saved from 2015 and 2016 and added 2 cups salt and 2 cups sugar into our largest stainless bowl. That made enough brine for half the fish.   I put the first batch of fillet pieces in for 50 minutes, and the second batch into the same brine for about an hour to account for any loss of salinity, etc.  I let the fish drain in colanders. After cleaning off the smoker racks, I put the fish on them in the refrigerator smoker John helped me build.  I left them with just the fan on overnight.   The next day the fish were drying nicely.  I noticed a blow fly on one of the pieces.  I scraped off the eggs and maybe need to put some netting over the vent holes in the bottom if it’s a problem again. I left the fan on and put in the electric frying pan I bought earlier in the day at the Salvation Army store and loaded it with some alder chunks.  The pan heated but would not ignite the chunks.  So I put in the hot plate with a little cast iron pan on top and that did the trick.  I left the electric frying pan on to add more heat.  I added more wood chunks to the pan about 4 times over the next day and a half.  The fish had a beautiful pellicle with no cracking or oil breaking through, but the bigger body fillet pieces were mushy inside.  I finished those in the oven at 300 degrees for 45 minutes.   We let the fish cool then I loaded the bags I’d saved and rinsed out when I took the fish out of them from the freezer, and Sara ran the vac packer.   Seemed like a big pile of fish out of the freezer but didn’t even fill our smoker.  The batch made about a milk crate full of smoked salmon to put back in the freezer.  We’re good for smoked fish for awhile.

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