Mix together Sugar and Salt. Skin and debone salmon, as well as cut off dark meat before smoking. Do not use belly strips as they are too fatty. Cut salmon into pieces such as nuggets 1″ x 1″ or strips 2″ x 6″ and 1/4″ thick. Cover the bottom of a plastic container with a 1/4″ of salt/sugar mixture. Place larger, thicker pieces of salmon onto mixture. Continue layering brine mixture/salmon until all salmon is covered. Place in refrigerator. The brine will dissolve quickly and begin to draw liquid from salmon.
This forms a thick brine that will cure and firm the salmon. Once the liquid has formed, you can start adding the seasonings of your choice to the brine. Add as many or few as you like. You should stir the fish every 4 hours and, eventually, you will get to know the feel of when it is the right consistency (squishy). Do not let it get too hard.
Once fish has reach consistency, remove it from the brine (it is not a very salty brine) so you do not have to rinse the fish. However you can, if you choose to. Place salmon on racks to dry until a nice glossy coating forms. This could take several hours, if you have space place racks in fridge.
Better than Candy
Although most salmon is hot smoked, I like to think I slow/cold smoke my salmon for the best candied quality. I will do my smoking in the evening when the temperature is cooler, which aids in keeping the smoker a little cooler. I will also vent open my smoker (either by propping the door open slightly or opening the vent all the way (depending on type of smoker you use). You want the fish temperature to rise slowly. Do not add chips/pucks/wood to smoker for the first hour, just let the fish rise slowly to temperature. Remember to put the thickest pieces on the bottom of the smoker and thinnest to the top.
I like to use Alder for smoking my salmon, and halfway I will add cherry or maple. In keeping the temperature low and the smoking wood controlled, you can do a nice slow cold smoke thru the night. But again, it all depends on thickness and amount of fish you’re doing.
Now to Candy your Salmon
Heat wine, rum, sugar, honey/maple syrup in a saucepan. There are a few ways to candy your salmon. It is your choice, have fun, experiment.
1. Glaze may be brushed on several times thru the smoking process.
2. You may remove salmon halfway thru smoking process, and soak it in glaze for a few hours, before resuming smoking.
3. Place the smoked salmon into a container with the glaze and leave it to absorb in the fridge (do not leave longer than a day, or the sugar will suck out more moisture from the smoked fish, even without salt
Besides Salmon, you’ll need:
1 kg -2 kg Demerara or Natural Brown Sugar
7/8 – 1 cup coarse salt (no more than a cup)
set aside for later (optional):
crushed garlic (8 cloves)
crushed peppercorns (small palm full)
grated fresh ginger (2 tsp)
grated zest of 1 orange
red chili flakes (1/2 tsp)
cayenne (1/2 tsp)
Do not add any liquid seasonings as this could compromise the salt/sugar ratio. However, I personally have snuck in about 4 oz of dark rum into the brine.
4 oz. red wine
4 oz. dark rum
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup honey or maple syrup
Try and keep 100-125 degrees (slow smoke)