Welcome to my BlogSpot. I have created this blog in hopes of inspiring everyone to cook. I have found my inspiration from living in both Southern and Northern California. My influences in flavors have come from family recipes and meals with emphasis on healthy foods, marrying into an Italian family and the ethnic flavors throughout California. There are so many wonderful memories connected to our family dishes as well as new memories in the dishes that have been recently created. My husband, Randy who is recently retired, has been my biggest supporter and inspiration in our kitchen. He is my taster, my sous chef, and has created some really great dishes himself, which will be added to this blog. It is my hope that you too will be inspired to cook and create your own dishes for your loved ones and enjoy the craft of cooking.

One thing I ask of you is if you print out, email and pass out my recipes, please include my name and link.

Be sure to check out my Sweaty Equities blog about the ups and downs of crafty projects and our DIY remodels.
You can find it at http://sweatyequities.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to Cure and Cold Smoke Your Own Salmon



Who doesn’t love smoked salmon? It is such a versatile meat which can be used as an appetizer, in pasta and salad dishes, or on its own carpaccio-style drizzled with olive oil and dressed with dill, fennel and capers. Or you can simply make a sandwich with it. The possibilities are endless!

I’ve always wanted to be able to make my own cured smoked salmon and when I found the perfect cut, about 3 pounds, I knew it was time. I did a lot of research on the internet and there are different combinations of the “sand” or dry brine, made to bury the salmon in. (Back in the old days the Norwegians would bury their catch in the sand to cure their salmon) The “sand” consists of a combination of sugar and salt for the cure and added flavors. Many were equal parts sugar to salt and some were more salt than sugar. Some used maples or honey and some used pure unrefined cane sugar. I just stuck to the salt sugar brine.



I came across a site that I thought had the best flavor combination (Georgia Pellegrini was the site) and tried making it verbatim. The sand/brine smelled so good! I love reading this site’s recipes. -Lots of great recipes on it. http://georgiapellegrini.com/2010/03/01/recipes/how-to-cure-salmon-and-other-fatty-fish/

Check it out and I’m sure you will get inspired too.

Well, I found, for my taste, that the salt/sugar ratio was just a bit too salty for me and I rinsed it well, so I made some changes to it. I ended up, the second time around, keeping the salt/sugar ratio as equal parts and was much happier with it.

There are different methods to cold smoking your salmon. You can buy a special smoking pan and use it indoors but if you have a grill I have an easier and less expensive way to cold smoke. I can’t take credit for it though because I saw how to do it on many different YouTube channels. You will need a new soldering iron that has never been used to solder, (or you will have a metal taste in the fish and that would be a disaster!). You will also need a can. I cleaned out and saved a can of tomatoes. Open the lid of the can 2/3, leaving1/3 still sealed. Bend open the top and drill and hole in the center of the opened lid big enough to fit the soldering iron through. Fill that can with Cherry Wood Chips about 2/3 full. Close the lid and put the soldering iron through the hole. Run the soldering iron plug through a vent hole in the grill or smoker and plug it in. If your soldering iron has an on/off switch, turn it on and you are ready to cold smoke.



 I have included a recipe for the salmon baguette pictured above. Scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

Ingredients for the Smoked Salmon
Ingredients
3 Lemons
3 Limes
3 oranges
2-1/2 cups Kosher salt
2-1/2 cups Sugar
1 tablespoon Whole Coriander
2 teaspoons Peppercorn Medly
3 pounds salmon, boneless and skinless

Here is how the process goes:

I bought 3 pounds of Salmon, skin off and de-boned. Try to find the thickest cut you can.

Combine 2-1/2 cups sugar and 2-1/2 cups Kosher salt and mix thoroughly.

Add the zest of 3 oranges, 3 limes and 3 lemons. (be sure to squeeze the juices of these 9 fruits, combine the juices and use them for the acid part of a salad dressing using my white spice rub and olive oil.

In a spice grinder put in 2 teaspoons of Whole Peppercorn Medly and a tablespoon of whole Coriander. Grind coarsely and add it to the sand/brine mixture. If you don’t have a spice grinder, just use it already ground, but use less of each because it’s already ground down.



Now the trick is to bury the fish in the sand snuggly. Sometimes it’s hard to find a glass baking pan to perfectly fit the mixture with the fish so I have come up with a solution that will help with a full, snug burial. I combined the width of 2 long pieces of plastic wrap and folded the edges together to make a wide long piece of plastic wrap. I placed it on the bottom of a glass pan, then I poured a little bit less than half of the sand on the bottom of the pan, about the size of the piece of fish. I place the dried off 3 pound piece of fish over the sand. I then carefully buried the sides and top of the fish with the rest of the sand/brine. 



I then folded over the sides of the plastic wrap over the fish and then the length of the plastic wrap over the fish. The fish was now completely buried and wrapped up nice and snug.



After it was all wrapped up, I got another pan, about the same size and placed it on the fish, bottom side down and put 2-5 pound weights in the top pan. This weighs down the fish and helps get all the moisture out of the fish. That’s part of the curing process. Place it in the refrigerator.



Now we wait 2 days. Be patient. The fish is curing. All the moisture is being drawn out of the fish.

After 2 days, take the fish out. You will notice that the brine mixture is very wet and the fish has shrunk just a bit and is a bit more dense. 


It is now cured. It needs to be rinsed and dried thoroughly. 



At this point you can eat it and use it in your favorite recipes, but I like to take it a bit further. Place the fish on a rack and put it in a clean refrigerator on a shelf by itself for 12 hours. Keep that shelf free of debris and don’t let anything drip on it. It will form a sticky substance while it is resting in the refrigerator for the next 12 hours.



Now it’s time to cold smoke. You’re getting closer to getting to eat it! You will need a new soldering iron that has never been used to solder, or you will have a metal taste in the fish and that would be a disaster. You will also need a can. I cleaned out and saved a can of tomatoes. Open the lid of the can 2/3, leaving1/3 still sealed. Bend open the top and drill and hole in the center of the opened lid big enough to fit the soldering iron through. Fill that can with Cherry Wood Chips about 2/3 full. Close the lid and put the soldering iron through the hole. Run the soldering iron plug through a vent hole in the grill or smoker and plug it in. If your soldering iron has an on/off switch, turn it on. Pull out the fish and rack and place it on an ice filled pan, fish not touching the ice. (In the cold weather you won’t need to do this ice method) and place it in your grill or smoker. Take some painters tape and seal the holes up on the grill. Now watch for the smoke. Lift the lid and peak in. When you see smoke, close the lid and smoke for 20-30 minutes. Now it is ready!



Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Baguette.

1 Baguette Loaf.
3 Green Onions, white parts only
3 Garlic Cloves
8-10 Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained of the oil
In a food processor, combine the above ingredients and chop finely.
8 ounces Cream Cheese
The zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 tablespoons Capers
1 teaspoon chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste
Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until well combined.
1 Cucumber thinly sliced on the bias
Cold Smoked Cured Salmon thinly sliced on the bias

Slice and toast the baguette in the oven or a grill. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture. Add 2 slices of cucumbers and top with a healthy amount of thinly sliced Cured, Cold Smoked Salmon.



Enjoy!!!


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