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How Long to Smoke Salmon Slowly and Tenderly

Salmon is one of the best fatty fishes available in the market today. Therefore, it’s a great choice for smoking. At the end of the slow-smoking process, the fats would have blended with the fish’s flesh to make it tender and juicy. The key is to be very patient while smoking salmon. If you’re wondering about how long to smoke salmon, this article will help you greatly.

Here, we will tell you different ways to smoke salmon at different temperatures, so that you never have to over-cook or under-cook smoked salmon again.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Salmon

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to answering the question, how long does it take to smoke it. It depends on the temperature that you set your smoker to.

Also, when making smoked salmon, you have to focus on the brining part as well. Keep the brine as simple as possible (brown sugar and salt will do).

Allow the fish to soak in the brine for a considerable amount of time before you smoke it to get the best results.

Brining the Fish is Important

If you want to know how long to smoke salmon to keep the juice and tenderness intact, you should perfect the art of brining the fish properly.

Here are a few points you should note about soaking the fish in brine:

  • Clean the fish properly, and ensure that it’s free of its skin and bones.
  • Now, in a huge bowl, mix about 1 cup of soy sauce and ½ cup of brown sugar. Stir the contents well until they blend nicely. You can also use one cup of salt to make the fish flavorful. You can skip the sauce for a dry cure and use only one cup each of brown sugar and salt. You can use some ground pepper as well for the dry cure.
  • Cut the fish into thin strips. Soak each strip in this brine solution and put them in zipper-lock bags. Put as many strips as possible into these bags and pour the remaining brine solution into it.
  • Seal the bags well and put them in the refrigerator. Allow the fish to sit inside for about 12 to 48 hours. This will help the fish to stay moist even after you smoke it for a few hours.
  • Choose the right kind of wood for smoking salmon, as it can affect the fish’s taste and quality. The classic hickory might not be a good idea for smoking salmon as the wood’s bitter flavor might rub on to the fish as well. We recommend using fruitwood or nut wood for the best results.

Salmon Smoke Time

If you’re wondering how long to smoke salmon at 250 degrees F, you can follow these simple steps to get your answer:

  • Preheat your smoker to anywhere between 200 and 250 degree F.
  • In the meantime, take out the fish from the refrigerator and allow them an hour to rest outside on paper towels to absorb the brine liquid. Pat the fish dry before placing the strips on the racks of your smoker.
  • Place the salmon strips neatly on the racks and start smoking in batches.
  • After about 3 hours, your smoked salmon will be ready. You can also use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the smoked fish. Continue to smoke until the internal temperature reaches about 145 degrees F. Usually when you smoke at 200 or 250 degree F, it would take about 3 hours for the salmon to cook properly. So, if you were thinking about how long to smoke salmon at 200 degrees F, we hope you would have got your answer with these steps.

Can You Reduce the Smoking Time

If you’re hard-pressed for time, you may wonder how long to smoke salmon at 150 degrees F to reduce the smoking time.

In that case, these are the steps you can follow:

  • Preheat the smoke to 150 degrees F.
  • Pat dry the fish completely and keep it on the racks. When smoking at 150 degrees F, recommend you to use hardwood for quick and even smoking.
  • It would take about one hour and 15 minutes to perfectly smoke it at 150 degrees F if you’re using medium-sized fillets. For bigger pieces, you have to wait for a longer time, though.

Smoked Salmon Recipe

Now that you know the basics, here’s a quick and easy recipe for you to try at home:

  • Choose the brine ingredients of your choice and mix them well in a bowl. Soak the fish in the brine solution before putting the contents in zipper-lock bags and place it in the refrigerator for about 12 hours.
  • If you’re using dry brine, after 12 hours, flip the fish again so that the contents in the bag get absorbed into the fish. Refrigerate the fish again for another 12 hours.
  • After 24 hours, take out the fish and clean the wet or dry cure you have used completely. You can wash off or pat dry the fish properly to remove all traces of brine in it. Allow the fish strips to dry on paper towels for about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the fish’s size.
  • After 2 hours, set your smoker to about 200 to 225 degrees F. Keep the dried fish strips on the rack and allow it to smoke for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
  • Switch off the smoker and let the fish cool down for another 30 minutes before you enjoy the delicious and tasty smoked salmon.

Final Thoughts

The answer to the question how long to smoke salmon depends on the size of the fish and the smoking temperature that you’re using.

You can smoke it at different temperatures, but please remember to have a meat thermometer handy with you at all times, so that you can stop smoking the salmon when it reaches the desired level.

This will help the fish to stay juicy, tender, moist, and tasty.

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