Recipe- Dead Nut’z Smoked Salmon- Ron Sauber
I think we are all looking for the same thing when it comes to turning our hard won
Salmon, Steelhead and Trout into the Northwest ﬁshermen’s favorite snack. For most, it
boils down to two things: appearance and ﬂavor. Put simply, we want it to look great
and taste even better. After years of smoking ﬁsh using a variety of traditional recipes
and techniques I came to the realization that I required it have one more attribute….It
needed to be easy!
After a long day on the water the last thing I looked forward to was sourcing a pinch of
this and a scoop of that marinated in 3 cups of whatever. So, I started experimenting. I
had three criteria.
- I wanted my smoked ﬁsh to taste like smoked ﬁsh. It always
seemed like a crime to take prime ﬁsh and mask its natural ﬂavors with ingredients
better suited to making pasta sauce.
- I wanted a dry cure that relied on a ratio instead of speciﬁc measurements. This would allow you to scale the amount of cure
you make to the amount of ﬁsh you needed to cure. It would also allow you to make it
ahead of time and store the shelf-stable cure to be used as needed.
- It needed to be an easy process that required minimal, easily sourced, inexpensive ingredients.
Ron Sauber’s Dead Nut’z Smoked Salmon Plate
Master Ratio for “Dead Nut’z” smoked ﬁsh
The great thing about a ratio is it doesn’t matter what you use for the “part”
measurement. You simply need to maintain the ratio’s. You could use anything from a
teaspoon, to a coffee cup to a snow shovel to measure the ingredient amounts and as
long as you stuck to the ratio, the ﬁnal product remains consistent.
1/2 part to 1 part
Pickling/Canning salt (adjust to suit your salt preference)
Brown Sugar (dark or light, your preference, I prefer dark)
“Morton’s Smoke Flavored Sugar Cure” Found in the spice isle
of most large supermarkets (discard the ﬂavor pack that comes with
- In one container throughly combine the three cure ingredients.In a separate “cure bowl” add a generous amount of cure.
- Fluff/loosen it up with your hands or fork so the cure is not packed down.
- Drop a piece of ﬁsh (patted dry) in the “cure bowl” and roll it around until all sides are
coated with cure. Don’t pack the cure onto the ﬁsh. Just lightly roll it around in the
cure; what sticks is all it takes.
- Toss the ﬁsh into another container/zip top bag.
- Re-ﬂuff the cure and repeat with the remaining ﬁsh adding more cure to the “cure
bowl” as needed.
- When all the ﬁsh has been coated dispose of any leftover cure in the “cure bowl” and
save any unused cure still in the original container for next time.
- After 2-4 hours you want to “overhaul” the curing ﬁsh, mixing it up, turing top to
bottom throughly mixing the ﬁsh with the cure. At this point the ﬁsh will have released
a generous amount of liquid and you want all the ﬁsh covered or at least in contact
with this liquid (this is were zip top bags are great as you can squeeze out excess air
and guarantee that the ﬁsh is in contact with the liquid during the entire curing
process. Free free to “overhaul” the ﬁsh again, as many more times as you see ﬁt
during the curing process.
- Let the ﬁsh cure in the fridge from 6-14 hours depending on thickness. Most average
salmon and larger steelhead sized pieces take 10-12 hours. Smaller steelhead or
trout need much less time. The ﬁsh is ready to smoke when its semi-ﬁrm to the touch
and has taken on a deeper color.
- Completely rinse ALL the cure off and pat dry.
- Place ﬁsh on OILED smoking racks and let air dry for 1-2 hours until tacky and
glossy. This is a great time to lightly sprinkle cracked black or lemon pepper onto the
ﬁsh before it goes into the smoker.
- Smoke until your desired level of doneness is reached. I aim for 6-7 hours start to
ﬁnish and an internal ﬁnish temp of 145* for 15 minutes.
Ron Sauber is a graduate of the Oregon Culinary Institute and guides kayak trips for Willamette River Spring Chinook as the owner of Groundswell Kayak Fishing.