If you are a fish lover, you may want to thank me later for this recipe. The smoked salmon with maple orange glaze may take a bit of your time in preparation, but it is definitely worth the wait. The maple orange glaze and hours of smoking will result in the soft melt-in-mouth salmon, with a flavor you’ve probably not experienced from any other fish recipe.
Purchasing The Right Salmon
The taste you get at the end of the day is primarily dependent on the type of fish you purchase. If you get the wrong salmon, your hard work may not pay off the results we are looking for here.
I will recommend purchasing salmon that has skin. However, if you prefer skinned salmon, then worry not. You will also get the same results!
I have smoked with skin on and off, and they all taste the same. The only reason I recommend one with skin is that it helps hold the fish together during smoking.
You should also purchase salmon with less fat running through it. There are some types that are rich in fat throughout the muscles. Although they are tasty, they are not ideal for smoking. In most cases, farmed salmon are the victims of the high-fat level – which may not be appealing to some people. If possible, go for wild-caught Alaskan king salmon or the sockeye one.
Note: Even though the albumin (a ‘whitish’ liquid) mainly comes out when smoking or grilling your salmon, most people categorize it as fat. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Albumin is a healthy protein, and it has as many benefits as the ‘meaty’ part of the salmon.
So Why Do You Need a Brine?
The distinctive factor when it comes to smoking salmon is the salmon brine. Whenever you smoke a salmon, you must dip it in the brine. In this recipe, we will be preparing a hot smoked salmon. Although it is prepared in the same way as the cold-smoked salmon, the curing process is a bit different. For the cold-smoked salmon, it is left to sit in a dry salt crust for about 24 hours. However, for the hot smoked version, the brine works the magic. It draws water out of the fish, and this helps to intensify the flavor.
For curing, you should use kosher salt or sea salt. The common table salt usually has some traces of iodine, which may mess up the flavor. Iodine also affects the concentration of salt in the brine and the moisture content in the salmon.
The Smoking Process
Photo Credit: snowpea&bokchoi
This recipe will include a 5 step process of smoking the salmon.
First, we will cure the salmon by combining all the ingredients for the cure in a glass container. We will then submerge the salmon in the cure for about 8 hours.
Thereafter, we will develop a pellicle. If you’ve prepared home-cured bacon before, then the process should be easier for you. Just like bacon, maple glazed salmon needs to have an outer layer known as a pellicle. To allow the pellicle to form, you will have to remove the fish from the brine and refrigerate it overnight. The next step is to prepare the glaze. Simply combine the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and set them apart. Next, you’ll need a pellet smoker that can be immediately preheated up to 165 degrees F to smoke the salmon.
Smoked Salmon with Maple Orange Glaze
Preparation Time: 16 – 20 hours
Cooking Time: 4 hours
TOTAL TIME: 24 hours
- 3 pounds of salmon fillet – preferably cut into independent portions.
Curing Liquid Ingredients
- Cool water- 4 cups
- 1 cup of maple syrup
- 1/2 cups of brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of kosher salt
- 1 orange zest
Maple Orange Glaze Ingredients
- 1/2 cup of maple syrup
- 1/4 cup of orange juice
Step 1: Prepare the brine and cure the salmon.
In a large glass bowl, combine all the curing ingredients above and stir until they are well mixed.
Now, submerge your salmon portions into the brine and cover the top. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let the salmon refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. The time needed for refrigeration depends on the size of the salmon. If they are thin, 8 hours will be enough, otherwise, try using as much time as possible up to 12 hours.
Step 2: Develop a pellicle
After 8 hours of curing, remove your salmon from the curing brine and place it on a cooling rack. Thereafter, put it in the fridge for another 8 hours to allow the development of a pellicle.
Step 3: Prepare the Maple Glaze
In a small glass bowl, combine all the ingredients for the maple glaze and set aside.
Step 4: Smoke the salmon
Now, preheat your smoker to about 165 degrees F. Place the salmon on the smoker grates with the skin down and smoke for about 4 hours. You should also observe the internal temperature. Checking with a smoker thermometer, the salmon should be ready when it attains an internal temperature of about 145 degrees F.
During the smoking process, you’ll need a grill baster to brush the maple glaze over your salmon every HOUR.
Step 5: Serve and enjoy
After the 5 hours of smoking, your salmon should be ready for serving. You can serve it hot or cold.
The smoked salmon with maple orange glaze prepared in this process can serve up to 8 people. The preparation process is really intense and time-consuming. However, as promised from the start, this salmon is worth the work.
The most crucial point to note about this process is the maple glaze preparation and curing. As mentioned, the curing process for a cold smoked salmon is different from the one we have used. If you intend to prepare cold smoked salmon, you do not have to prepare the brine. For this, you have to use the curing solution.