Homemade Hot Smoked Salmon spiced with the flavors of fall!
Forgive me if this post is heavy on the images, but believe me I could have easily added double the amount I posted. If you’ve never been to Alaska, get it on your bucket list because it’s unbelievably beautiful. Whether you’re a lone traveler or one with a family, Alaska can be enjoyed by both. I’ve taken my kids there already but recently visited again with some blogging friends.
Nik, Molly, Alana, Kristan and I were all guests of Copper River Salmon. Based in Cordova, which is a quiet small town in southeast Alaska and situated at the base of the incredible Copper River delta. It was a trip that I’ll never forget. And hanging out with such a great group of people in an amazing location was just the ticket for a mental recharge from my everyday bustle.
The itinerary was busy but not overwhelming and Kinsey, our awesome leader from Copper River Salmon made sure we wanted for nothing. If we weren’t flying in a seaplane, we were hiking on fantastic trails or learning all about how important Copper River Salmon is and what makes it such a premium part of the food chain. Oh, and of course we ate salmon…a lot of salmon!
As incredible as the visual stuff was on this trip, the most memorable thing for me ended up being able to witness the true passion from the men and women who pull these amazing fish from the water throughout the season. We ate side by side with them, we drank beers with them, we sailed on their boats and listened to the stories they told. I didn’t see any moments of regret for choosing such a hard career or animosity between them. They all sail from the same harbor with the same goals, but they act like one huge family helping each other when needed. They invited us into their lives and we were made to feel really welcome.
So what makes Copper River Salmon so special? Its life begins far upstream where they’re born in fresh water from eggs buried in gravel. The young fish head for the ocean where they live for a few years before beginning a long journey back upstream from the ocean, trying to get back to the exact place they were born. The strength and stamina this journey takes make for a meaty and tasty fish because of the fat they store to complete the 300-mile journey.
Once the fish find their original spot, the body color will change to a deep patchy red. All they have left to do now is breed and lay eggs. After the eggs have been buried, the fish will start to break down, filling the rivers with super-healthy nutrients which other river life and the life of the newborn salmon will depend upon for the beginning of their own ocean journey to complete the cycle.
Copper River Salmon tastes best when just lightly seasoned, but for this recipe, I decided to smoke my Coho salmon. After letting it sit for 24 hours in a brine of brown sugar, salt and a mixture of fall spices like cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg, I slow cooked it for about two hours in my smoker using applewood chips.
The flavor was incredible…I made salmon candy!
Thank you Copper River Salmon for such an epic trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own!
Hot Smoked Salmon
- 3 1/2 pound Coho salmon filet, skin left on
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground coffee
- Rinse the salmon and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Lay the salmon on a baking tray skin side down.
- In a bowl whisk together the remaining seven ingredients.
- Spread the spice mixture over the salmon completely covering it.
- Cover the salmon lightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, take the salmon from the tray and rinse it under cold running water to remove the brine.
- Pat the salmon dry and lay it on a sheet of aluminum foil
- Prepare your smoker aiming to reach a temperature between 150-200 degrees consistently.
- Place a handful of apple wood chips on the coals.
- Once the smoker has reached a steady temperature, place the salmon and foil on to the smoker.
- Keep an eye on the temperature and try to stay at or around 150 degrees.
- Smoke the salmon for two hours until firm to the touch.
- Remove the smoked salmon to another tray and cover lightly with the foil.
- Store the salmon in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- Before slicing the salmon, turn it over and carefully peel of the skin, it should come of fairly easy.
- Eat as it is or add it to some eggs for breakfast.