A beyond-the-basics brine of shredded beet and zested & juiced blood orange. Finish off with a glaze of pomegranate and maple syrup for the best hot-smoked salmon. Works for whole fish or fillets equally.
Author:The Peasant's Daughter
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:4 hours
Total Time:4 hours 20 minutes
Yield:1 salmon 1x
Whole salmon. Gutted and gilled. Or salmon fillets, skin on
Enough fresh water to fully cover and submerge your salmon
1 tablespoon of kosher salt per 1 cup of water
2 beets per salmon fillet, grated using a cheese-grater, or 2–4 beets (depending on size of fish) per whole salmon.
2 blood oranges, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons of coconut amino acids (or soy or tamari sauce) per whole salmon or fillet
(I use hickory woodchips most of the time, but for fish Traeger recommends mesquite, oak, alder, and their signature blend.)
To Determine the Amount of Water Needed:
You only need enough fresh water to fully submerge the salmon, no more. You can weigh the water too, but this is how I do it.
Using a 1 cup measure, fully submerge the salmon in fresh water.
The amount of cups you used is the amount you need for your brine.
I like to discard the fishy salmon water and start with a fresh batch for making the actual brine.
In a large enough saucepan on medium heat, add your kosher salt into a few cups of water, and allow it to fully melt.
Add the salty water into the rest of your water as you measured in the above steps. Stir until fully incorporated.
Add the soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos (if using), grated beets and zested and juiced blood oranges.
Allow the water to fully come to room temperature — IMPORTANT — do not use hot brine on your salmon, it will precook the fish.
When the brine solution has cooled down, fully submerge your salmon and add a few teaspoons of whole black peppercorns.
Place your salmon in the refrigerator to brine anywhere from 8 hours to overnight. Overnight is best.
After the salmon is sufficiently brined, remove them from the solution and discard the liquid.
Rinse your salmon under cold running water to remove the brine from the surface. Failing to do so will result in an overly-salty fish.
Pat the fish dry.
Using 2-3 toothpicks per salmon (if smoking whole fish), stick them in the fish cavity to keep it propped open while drying and smoking.
Place the salmon on a rack to dry from 1-4 hours. This step is crucial in developing sticky the pellicle which helps smoke adhere to the flesh. I usually go for 2 hours at cool room temperature, but the refrigerator is probably best.
Preheat your Traeger on the ‘Smoke’ setting for 5 minutes.
Baste the salmon inside and out with an equal mixture of pomegranate and maple syrup using a pastry brush and place them, with their chest cavities propped open, directly on the grill.
Set your timer for 1 hour and every hour baste the salmon with more pomegranate and maple syrup and check to see if the flesh is flaky.
Depending on the size, the smoking will take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 4.
Do NOT surpass 4 hours unless you are looking to make salmon jerky.
Do NOT let the temperate get above 200/220 Fahrenheit, and if it does place a bowl of ice water inside the smoker.
You can also use only pomegranate molasses or only maple syrup for the basting.