SMOKY FISH Challenge
Smoked Salmon & Carp Get Carried Away by the Current
My grandfather was a commercial fisherman. He taught me a lot about fishing and prepping the fish afterward. As long as the river was open, we fished and ate fish. He had this 16-foot river jon, and there were days he’d come back with the lip of the boat barely an inch above the water. He packed them in. He fished the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River, up into Iowa, down to Mississippi, and of course, along the Missouri River in Missouri. He knew his rivers, and he knew his fish. And he didn’t let age stop him from doing what he loved. When he was in his 70s, he’d continue to spend all day on the river. He’d load up his boat with fish and get the grandkids to take care of the rest. I remember cleaning those fish into the wee hours of the morning. All these years later, I’m keeping that love of fish alive and passing everything I know to my own kids. And this month, I’m passing down what I know about smoked salmon (and smoked carp) to you. These are two great fish, and inside this newsletter you’ll find two great recipes you won’t want to miss — especially if you’re not too sure about carp, as a lot of people tend to be. Let’s start with smoked salmon. It’s one tasty fish that’s easy to cook but also easy to overcook. Once you have yourself a prepped salmon, you want to start with a brine. It’s going to be a quick brine because salmon is a delicate fish; it takes on the flavors of the brine quickly. I’m talking 40–45 minutes. And you need to keep an eye on it, too, because if you brine it for too long, it will fall apart on you. Once it’s done, all it needs is to be patted dry. Then you leave it out to air-dry at room temperature for a couple of hours. This is an important step you don’t want to skip. As the salmon dries, it starts to form a pellicle (the salt in the brine helps get this process started). This is a thin, tacky film that will appear on the meat. This pellicle is perfect for adding your spice rub. The rub will stick to it and keep that flavor right on the meat.
Before you put the salmon on the grill or in the smoker, think about how you want to prepare it. For instance, I love smoking salmon on a cedar plank, but there are other ways of doing it, including using a simple foil plate. When it comes to cedar planks, you need to soak them for 3–4 hours. When you soak them in water, you add spices to that water, and the planks will absorb those spices, which will then be infused into your salmon during cooking. I use a dill pickle seasoning mix for my cedar water. After around four hours, I take out the planks, put the fish on them, and stick them in the smoker.
Don’t have cedar or don’t want to use it? You can get yourself some heavy-duty foil and create a vessel to put your salmon in. All you need
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