This healthy and delicious slow food recipe is a perfect use of good quality salmon. Eat it immediately or preserve it for later!
1) Mix together water, salt, sugar, syrup, and cayenne pepper. Pour over salmon in a shallow container. Brine should cover the salmon. Cover the salmon and refrigerate in the brine for 24-36 hours. For thicker filets of salmon, you definitely want to shoot for 36 hours. I also recommend flipping the salmon halfway through just to make sure it is brining evenly.
2) Drain brine from salmon. Place salmon in a cool dry clean place and let it dry for 2 hours. This will form a light, sticky surface on the salmon. You can smoke the salmon at this point or refrigerate it for later smoking (you should smoke it within a day or two of brining and drying it.)
3) Prepare smoker according to instructions. Be sure to season the smoker or preheat it with soaked wood chips in place and water pan filled.
4) Smoke salmon at the lowest temperature you can manage (hopefully around 120 degrees F.) for 2 hours. Check the temperature of the salmon frequently to make sure it isn’t cooking too quickly. Then you can slowly raise the smoker temperature to get to the desired temperature.
5) The salmon should take 3-4 hours to get to the desired temperature of 140 degrees F. If it cooks too fast, you’ll see white liquid being pressed out the top of the salmon. If there’s a lot (some is okay), it means the salmon is cooking too fast. You can always turn off the smoker completely to slow the cooking process. Keep the door closed to keep the smoke circulating.
6) When salmon is done smoking, remove it from the smoker and serve it immediately by flaking it off or let it cool.
For storage, cool completely, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge for up to 10 days. You can also vacuum seal the fish and freeze it for up to 6 months. I recommend eating it immediately though!