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Many people love the taste of smoked salmon but are unsure of the process for creating this tasty delight at home. In this step-by-step guide, we will take you through the steps to smoke salmon on a pellet grill. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner or a seasoned grill master, this guide will help you achieve mouthwatering results. Let’s get to it.
How long should I smoke salmon at 225F?
Preheat your smoker to 225F(107C)and season your salmon filets. You should smoke your salmon for 45-60 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145F. You can add some fresh lemon juice as a flavor enhancer.
Do you wash salmon before you smoke it?
Absolutely! Even though you may brine your salmon before you smoke it, you will still want to wash and dry the filets before smoking. This will get rid of any excess salt or spices that may have clumped up while resting. It will help ensure a more even flavor on your filets.
Can you leave smoked salmon in the refrigerator overnight?
Yes! You can keep smoked salmon for about one week in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for up to three months, it is best to place it in a vacuum-sealed container but that is not mandatory.
Selecting The Right Salmon
The first step for creating the best salmon dish is to select the right fish. When choosing your salmon look for a filet that is a deep orange or red in color. This is an indicator the fish is fresh, you want the freshest fish you can get. Most often wild-caught salmon will give you the best flavor.
Prepare Your Salmon For Smoking
Before smoking your salmon, it is necessary to prepare your salmon correctly. Take a pair of tweezers and look for any bones that may have been missed and remove them. After removing any bones rinse your salmon thoroughly, and pat your filet dry with paper towels. Once you have removed any bones and rinsed your salmon it is time to go to the next step.
Brining The Salmon
Brining your salmon is a key step to having a flavorful dish. The process of brining will help infuse more flavor while keeping the salmon moist. Making a brine solution for your salmon is very easy to do. I will share this recipe later in this article. Your brine will have kosher salt, and sugar, along with your choice of herbs and spices in water. Place your salmon in a large container or zip lock bag, and cover your salmon completely. Once you have your salmon in your brine solution place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour. You will not want to brine your salmon for more than four hours, this leads to over-salting your fish.
Preparing Your Pellet Grill
As your salmon is brining you have the perfect opportunity to be sure your grill is clean and ready to go. Be sure that grill grates are free of any debris and clean. Fill your hopper with the flavor of wood pellets you prefer such as hickory, maple, apple, cherry, or mesquite. Each flavored wood pellet has a unique flavor, choose one that complements the salmon. Preheat your grill to 225F(107C). This low and slow-method will give you the best results smoking your salmon.
Drying The Salmon After Brining
After you have brined your salmon filets, remove them from the brine and rinse them in cold water thoroughly. This rids your filets of any excess salt or clumps of flavorings. Pat them dry with paper towels and place on a wire rack for about an hour. This allows a thin coating called perricle to form. This thin, tacky layer allows the smoke to stick to your filets for that great flavor you are looking to enjoy.
Time For The Smoke
Now that the filets have dried, it is time to put them on the grill to absorb that delicious smoky flavor you enjoy. Place the filets on the grill grates, be sure to leave room so they don’t touch. Close the lid so the smoking can begin. Depending upon the size of the filets it will take 1.5-3 hours for your salmon to be done. Keep your temperature consistent at 225F(107C) throughout the smoking process.
You will want to keep your temperature as close to 225F(107C) as possible. If your pellet grill has a probe to keep track of the internal temperatue then you should have no problems knowing when it reaches 145F(63C). Once it reaches this temperature, your salmon is done. You may take it off if it is slightly under since your salmon filets will still cook for a few minutes as it rests.
If you don’t have a meat probe on your pellet grill, after about 1 hour 20 minutes take your digital thermometer to check the internal temperature. Keep in mind the thickness of your filets and the amount of smoke flavor you desire.
Resting And Serving
Once your salmon has reached the internal temperature, remove it from the grill. This is called resting. Allow your filets to rest so they can reabsorb the juices that have been released in the smoking process. Not only will this help your salmon filets remain tender, juicy, and succulent it also allows the flavors to come together for a fantastic meal.
The time has come to finally taste your freshly smoked salmon filets. You can serve this dish alone or you can add it to other dishes such as appetizers. If you should thinly slice your filest against the grain on a platter, showing off the beautiful texture becoming the star of the show.
There are a number of items you can pair smoked salmon with depending upon the event. To gain a deeper appreciation of smoked salmon try pairing with some of these items for a smoky adventure that will amaze even the most discriminating of palates. This is a partial list of classic pairings, cream cheese, bagels, thinly sliced red onion, capers or pickled vegetables.
Experimentation is always a new way of finding different items to add to your brine for a completely new flavor such as adding maple syrup or honey for a touch of sweetness. Perhaps you find cracked black pepper or dill more to your liking. Your options are limitless.
My Final Thoughts
Smoking salmon is a great way to add to the number of items you can smoke on pellet grill. By following this guide, you will find you are producing a dish that many restaurants would be envious of. Remember the fresher the salmon the better the flavor, always choose one that is of high-quality. Brine your salmon properly so you can infuse more smoke into your dish.
Easy Way To Smoke Salmon
Brine Recipe For Salmon
This is a common recipe for brining salmon
- 4 cups cool water
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- zest of 1 lemon
This brine recipe can be found on Hey Grill Hey
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