Are you a fan of smoked salmon but not a fan of the skin? Or maybe you’re just curious about trying something new?
Either way, smoking salmon without the skin is easier than you might think. With a few simple steps and some helpful tips, you can create perfectly smoked salmon with a lovely smoky flavor and no skin in sight.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about smoking salmon without skin, including the best wood to use, how long to smoke it for, and more.
So, let’s get started!
How To Smoke Salmon Without Skin?
First things first, you’ll need to prep your smoker. Preheat it to 225 degrees Fahrenheit using a fruit wood like cherry or apple. Soak the wood chips in water for 30 minutes prior to smoking.
Next, place your salmon on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke until it reaches your desired internal temperature. For tender salmon, cook it to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of time will vary depending on the thickness of your salmon filet, but a typical 2-pound filet should take roughly one hour.
To ensure that your salmon is cooked perfectly, use a good quality digital instant read thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. Start checking the temperature early, especially if you’re using a smaller fillet or wild-caught salmon.
When smoking salmon without skin, it’s important to pay attention to the texture and color of the fish. You’ll see the salmon sweating out proteins and a nice red color start to form on the crust of the salmon. Poke and pull apart the flaky salmon to make sure that the interior is pink and not translucent.
Why Smoke Salmon Without Skin?
There are several reasons why someone might choose to smoke salmon without skin. One reason is personal preference – some people simply do not enjoy the texture or taste of the skin. Removing the skin also allows for easier seasoning and flavoring of the salmon, as the seasoning can penetrate the flesh more effectively without the barrier of the skin.
Another reason to remove the skin is that it can trap moisture and oil, which can make the smoked salmon greasier and less desirable. By removing the skin, you can achieve a drier, flakier texture that many people prefer in their smoked salmon.
Additionally, smoking salmon without skin allows for more even cooking and smoking. The skin can act as a barrier, preventing the smoke and heat from penetrating evenly throughout the fish. Without the skin, you can achieve a more consistent flavor and texture throughout the entire fillet.
Ultimately, whether or not to smoke salmon with or without skin is a matter of personal preference. However, by removing the skin, you can achieve a drier, more even smoked salmon that many people find more enjoyable.
Choosing The Right Wood For Smoking Salmon
Choosing the right wood for smoking salmon is crucial to achieving the perfect flavor and aroma. While there are many types of wood that can be used for smoking fish, some work better than others.
For cold smoking salmon, alder is universally considered the best wood to use. It has a delicate flavor that won’t overpower the fish, and it’s widely available in nature. Willow is also a good option if you want to harvest it yourself. Other woods like hickory and oak can be used, but they should be part of a mixture of wood chips and used sparingly as they have a stronger flavor.
For hot smoking salmon, you can use more powerful flavored woods like walnut, lemon, and pecan. These woods work well because the salmon will be cooked all the way through at a higher temperature, so there’s less chance of the wood overpowering the delicate flavor of the fish.
It’s important to remember that less is more when it comes to using wood chips for smoking salmon. A little goes a long way, and it’s better to start with a small amount and add more if needed. Keeping a record of what type of fish is smoked on what wood blend with flavor notes is also helpful in finding the best combinations.
Preparing The Salmon For Smoking
Before smoking your salmon without skin, it’s important to prepare it properly. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Pat dry the salmon with a paper towel and place it on a rack lined sheet pan.
2. In a bowl, mix together brown sugar, kosher salt, and any other seasonings you prefer.
3. Lightly coat the skin side of the salmon (about 1/4 of the amount of the brine) with the mixture.
4. Thoroughly coat the meat side of the salmon with the rest of the brine.
5. Place the salmon back onto the rack, making sure that it’s lifted from the bottom of the sheet pan.
6. Cover with foil and let it sit in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight to marinate.
7. Rinse off the brine with water and pat dry.
8. Place the salmon back onto the rack uncovered and put it back in the fridge for at least 5 hours or until it forms a pellicle (a tacky, glossy layer on the surface).
9. Remove the fish from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to prepare for even cooking.
10. Preheat your smoker to 140-150°F and add your wood chips or pellets into your smoker by filling the container 3/4 of the way full.
11. Add your salmon fillet onto a rack with the meat side facing up and smoke it for about an hour at this lower temperature.
12. After an hour, raise the temperature to 180°F and continue smoking until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F.
13. Remove from smoker and let it rest uncovered for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
By following these steps, you’ll end up with delicious smoked salmon without skin that is perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection.
Smoking The Salmon: Time And Temperature
Smoking salmon is all about getting the right time and temperature to achieve that perfect texture and flavor. The ideal temperature for smoking salmon is 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will allow the salmon to cook slowly and retain its moisture, resulting in a tender and juicy fish.
When it comes to time, the amount of time you smoke your salmon will depend on the thickness of the filet. For a typical 2-pound filet, smoke it for roughly one hour. However, it’s important to start checking the internal temperature early, especially if you’re using a smaller fillet or wild-caught salmon.
To ensure that your salmon is cooked perfectly, use a good quality digital instant read thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. For tender salmon, cook it to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke and pull apart the flaky salmon to make sure that the interior is pink and not translucent.
It’s important to note that smoking salmon at a lower temperature will take longer to cook, but it will also help the fish retain its moisture and prevent it from overcooking. The lower you are able to keep the smoker temperature, the better. This way, the salmon will remain moist and won’t dry out.
Tips For Perfectly Smoked Salmon Without Skin
Here are some tips to ensure that your smoked salmon without skin turns out perfectly:
1. Purchase skin-on fillets: Salmon is very tender and flaky, and the skin helps keep it together in the smoker without falling through the grates. However, if you prefer to remove the skin, make sure to do so before smoking.
2. Dry brine the salmon: Even though you’re not using the skin, it’s still important to dry brine the salmon with a simple mixture of kosher salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and crushed peppercorns. This will make the salmon juicy and rich in flavor.
3. Don’t overcook the salmon: This is crucial when smoking salmon without skin. Adding too much wood or smoking for too long can result in dry salmon. Smoke at a temperature between 100-120°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 100-120°F.
4. Use a good quality digital instant read thermometer: To ensure that your salmon is cooked perfectly, use a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. Start checking the temperature early, especially if you’re using a smaller fillet or wild-caught salmon.
5. Pay attention to texture and color: When smoking salmon without skin, it’s important to pay attention to the texture and color of the fish. You’ll see the salmon sweating out proteins and a nice red color start to form on the crust of the salmon. Poke and pull apart the flaky salmon to make sure that the interior is pink and not translucent.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to smoke delicious and perfectly cooked salmon without skin every time.
Serving And Storing Smoked Salmon Without Skin
Once your smoked salmon without skin is cooked to perfection, it’s time to serve and store it properly. When serving, consider the size of your salmon filet and portion it out accordingly. A good rule of thumb is to serve 4-6 ounces per person.
When it comes to storing your smoked salmon without skin, it’s important to keep it refrigerated at all times. If you plan on consuming it within a few days, simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the fridge. It should last for up to 5 days if stored properly.
If you have leftover smoked salmon without skin that you won’t be able to eat within a few days, consider freezing it. Place the salmon in an airtight container or freezer bag and label it with the date before placing it in the freezer. It should last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
When thawing your frozen smoked salmon without skin, take it out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, consume it within 24 hours for best quality.
It’s important to note that pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems should avoid consuming raw or undercooked fish, including smoked salmon. If you’re unsure about the safety of your smoked salmon without skin, it’s best to cook it thoroughly before consuming.