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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. It needed to be an easy process that required minimal, easily sourced, inexpensive ingredients.

 

Ron Sauber's Dead Nut'z Smoked Salmon Plate

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
the cure.

  • 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.

 

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