Home-“Smoked” Salmon, Sous Vide

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 | 0 comments

How to smoke salmon at home

Photo: Wikimedia

I’ve used this recipe several times now, and I think it’s close to foolproof–an easy and delicious way to impress your friends with your culinary skill. The quality of the salmon makes a big difference with this recipe. I prefer it with wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon, which has a bright red flesh that practically glows once cooked. I also prefer to use skin-on filets, which hold together better after cooking. And I would always recommend avoiding farmed Atlantic salmon, which has little flavor and destroys marine ecosystems.

Thanks to Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats for introducing me to “beer cooler sous vide.”

Serves 3 (meal) to 8 (snack)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (or more, for a smokier flavor)
A gallon-size freezer bag with a tight seal, or a vacuum sealer
1 1/2 lb. salmon filet
A large sprig of rosemary
A beer cooler, sous vide machine, or other device for holding a steady temperature for 30-45 minutes
An instant-read thermometer to check the temperature

1. Add the brown sugar, salt, and liquid smoke to the large freezer bag and shake it gently to dissolve the brown sugar and salt.
2. Gently add the salmon fillet to the freezer bag (or vacuum sealer). If it is a large piece of salmon, you might need to cut it into two pieces. Add the sprig of rosemary (or dill, if you prefer it) on top or between the pieces. Remove as much air as possible from the bag.
3. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, and preferably 2-4 hours.
4. You want to bring the salmon to 125 degrees F and hold it at that temperature for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have a sous vide machine, you can use a small beer cooler filled with hot water (see link above for details on how to make it even more efficient). In that case, start with water that is about 130 degrees F.
5. If you are using a freezer bag with a zipper, you’ll probably notice that (no matter how much you tried) there is probably some air left in the bag. Gently submerge the salmon so that one corner of the bag is above the water line, maneuver the air in the bag up to that corner, and carefully open that part of the zipper. The water pressure should force the remaining air out of the bag. It should not float–if it does, there’s still too much air in there.
6. Cook at 125 degrees F for at least 30 minutes. It can sit at that temperature for an hour, if necessary, without harming the texture.
7. Remove the bag from the water bath, gently remove the salmon from the bag, and serve. I like it slightly above room temperature, but it’s also good chilled.

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