This fellow Jasper was invited by a bunch of uncles to go on a fly fishing trip in Alaska. First there was the conventional flight to Anchorage, then a puddle jumper to some remote island tucked into Alaska’s impressive archipelago, and from there a journey deep into the Alaskan bush that isn’t accessible by vehicle. Alaska’s kind of mythic like that.
For his birthday, my friend Alex wrangled some of this salmon from the loving arms of his friend Jasper and we all enjoyed the spoils. There was a delicacy to the texture of the meat that is totally lost in most supermarket salmon, even if it’s a fancy market. It was buttery, tender, epic.
Alex’s recipe for smoked salmon:
2 parts brown sugar
1 par kosher salt
1/2 cup crushed peppercorns
1/2 cup soy sauce
Mix everything except half of the peppercorns together in a large pot. Add water (about a gallon) and then put your salmon into the pot for about 2 hrs to brine. After brining, take out the fillets and let then air dry until just barely sticky to the touch. The air drying process creates the pellicle, a thin layer of proteins that come to the surface of the fillets during the brining process.
Now you can get your smoker ready. You could use a simple charcoal grill or an actual smoker. The key is to start a small coal fire and then put water soaked wood chips on top of the coals. Ideal temperature should be around 180 degrees. Smoke until the fillets flake.