Posted by: socalsalty | August 10, 2011

How To Smoke Salmon

Last week, Jake and I fished with Capt Dan Porter on the Columbia River.  Here’s the video:



Later we connected with one of my buddies from college, Charlie Hately, at his home in Mercer Island, WA.  Charlie is from Anchorage, and he showed Jake and I…

How To Smoke Salmon

This same recipe should work for some of our SoCal fish as well.  Tuna and barracuda I have heard make for good smoking.

Step One: Brining the Salmon

Charlie’s Brine

2 qts of water

1/2 cup of NON-iodized salt (very important)

1 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp ground black pepper

Brine up to 7 lbs of salmon for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Step Two: Rinse the salmon

You’ll notice that the texture of the salmon is firmer now, less give.  Thoroughly rinse the brined salmon in cold water.

Charlie racking the brined salmon. Note the orientation of the pieces, it maximizes air flow around the salmon.

Step Three: Rack the salmon

Spray the rack with a non-stick spray.  Array the pieces across the rack so that they all point in the same direction.  Depending on how sunny or not it is outside, this will take an hour to 2 or more.  Place a fan behind the rack and turn it on.  The fan does two things, speed the process, and keep flies off your fish.  It is ready when a shiny skin (called a pellicle)  forms on the outside of the salmon.

Step Four: Smoke it

Charlie uses a hot smoking process, using a typical electric smoker.  He likes to use a mixture of alder and apple chips (finer grind vs. chunks).  He shoots for around 200 deg F, and it will take around 2 hours per lb. of meat.  It is done when the internal temperature hits 165 deg F.


Once done, vacuum seal the individual pieces and they’ll last for a year (maybe more).  Refrigerate the smoked salmon after opening the package.  I like to take a wheat thin, put cream cheese on it, lay a chunk of salmon on top, and depending on your heat preference, top with a slice of jalapeno, or sweet green bell pepper.

Thanks Jake, Capt Dan, and Charlie!  Tight lines!

A gift of smoked salmon can inspire spontaneous giddiness



  1. Great blog! Another salty. I am the East Coast version of you!

    • Thanks for stopping by. Us Salties need to stick together! Gonna try to get your way next year. Let me know if you get to SoCal.

  2. Wow! That looks good! I am super hungry now. I can only get store bought smoked salmon around here. Its just not the same. I found you on the OBN.

    Tim Borkert

    • Thanks Tim. It’s reaaaaally good :-). I’ll check out your blog too.

  3. Nice job Jake that is a great fish!!! Salty runs in the family. I bet that was soooooo good smoked ! Looks like you had a Fantastic time. Hope i can get out there sometime in the future . You guys always keep me in touch!
    Perry & Bryce

  4. That last picture is priceless on so many levels!

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