Cherry Bomb Smoked Salmon
We call this Hot Hot Smoked Salmon. The recipe is fairly loose, and can easily be scaled up or down. Time and temperature are the most important factors for success. Go slow and keep an eye on your smoker. While this recipe takes a few days to complete, the steps are simple and worth the end result! The fish makes an excellent topping for bagels, pasta, or even as the base for smoked salmon rillettes. It should keep for a few weeks well sealed in the refrigerator.
1 large fillet of salmon, 3-4 lbs, preferably skin on
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 oz salt (roughly 2 tbsp of coarse sea salt)
2 cups water
1/4 cup Cherry Bomb hot sauce
Wood chips for smoking – we love Alder wood for this
Directions: In a container large enough to hold the salmon, dissolve salt and sugar in 2 cups of water. (A re-sealable plastic bag works great here.) Add salmon. If brine doesn’t fully cover it, top off with a little more water. Allow to salmon to brine for at least 8 hours and up to 24. If your fillet is especially thick, you will want to leave it for longer.
Once salmon is brined, remove it from the liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Set salmon, skin side down, on a cooling rack and allow to dry overnight in the fridge. When fully dry, the surface of the fish should be smooth and shiny. This is called a pellicle.
Soak wood chips for at least an hour and add to your smoker. Set up your smoker with a pan of water between the wood and the grates. Oil the grates and add salmon, skin side down. Start the smoker with as low of temperature as you can maintain, ideally around 150. You don’t need super precise temperature control, but the lower you can keep it, the better. After 30 minutes, baste the salmon with the hot sauce. Continue to baste every 60 minutes as the salmon smokes. The fish is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 135-140. This will vary depending on your fish and smoker heat, but anticipate 3-4 hours.