Smoked Salmon Candy

This smoked salmon candy also called “indian candy” was, at one time, a staple food while traveling away from home where cooking was difficult or near impossible.

The texture ranges from moist and tender to slightly dry and chewy depending on how long you cook it and you will just have to decide exactly how you like it best.

Update: When I first produced this recipe a few years ago, I had reports that it was too salty for some. I have completely reworked this recipe to ensure that the process is straight forward, much easier to follow. I have also modified the recipe to NOT use extra salt. It uses only my original rub (which is low in salt) for the dry brining/marinating process.

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Important Information
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Brine Time: 12 hours or overnight
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 120/160°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 145°F
  • Recommended Wood: Apple or Alder
What You’ll Need

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Most smoked salmon candy is very sweet and heavy on the brown sugar but I tend to like it more sweet and spicy. The salmon pieces in this recipe are packed in my rub overnight to dry brine and the flavor that ensues is well worth the wait!

Use my original rub on this smoked salmon candy and you’ll be glad you did when you taste it.

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Slice and Remove the Skin

If you have access to fresh, wild salmon then I highly recommend that you use that. You can also use store-bought but you can’t expect the same quality and flavor as fresh, wild-caught salmon. I’ve had both and you can definitely tell the difference. My point is to use the best thing you can get your hands on within your budget and means.

The first thing I do with salmon is to give it a good rinse with cold water and then pat it dry with a paper towel.

Lay it on the cutting board skin side down.

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You can cut this as wide as you want and to any size that you want. I chose to go with about 1 inch slices right down the fish.

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Some folks skin the fish before they slice it but I have found that it is easier to remove the skin from smaller pieces.

Use a sharp knife and just glide the blade between the meat and the skin to separate the two.

My method is to get it started on the thick end then when I have enough to get ahold of, I hold it with the thumb of my left hand (I am right handed) while I glide the blade, angled slightly downward, away from me.

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Removing the skin will cause stray scales to end up on the meat of the fish and I like to give it another rinse under cold water to remove anything unwanted.

As you rinse them, pile them on a paper towel to drain.

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Dry Brine the Salmon

Now we are ready to dry brine the fish in my rub (purchase recipe here).

What is dry brining?

In it’s most basic terms, dry brining is the act of sprinkling salt (kosher salt is best) on meat. Water from the meat is attracted to the salt and is brought to the surface to meet the salt. The water mixes with the salt and is then reabsorbed back into the meat.

Even though my rub is very low in salt, it is enough to do the job. The salt in the rub pulls the moisture to the surface where it mixes with the rub and then that flavorful slurry is reabsorbed back into the meat. It’s like injecting flavor into the meat except a whole lot better!

To start, I pour enough rub to create a layer on the bottom of the brining bowl. For this 3 pound salmon, I used a bowl that was about 5″ x 8″ and about 5″ deep with a lid.

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Add the salmon pieces by laying them gently on top of the layer of rub.

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Add another layer of rub.

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With every layer, add more rub.

Place a lid on the container and place the fish in the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours while it brines.

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After about 4 hours, you will notice that liquid slurry in the bottom of the bowl, and you may want to stir the fish around a little to make sure it is well coated.

Here is the fish after 12 hours in the fridge..

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The fish is very firm and smells wonderful.

Rinse the fish under cold water and try to get off as much of the rub as possible. The flavors have already done their job and what is left is not needed. Besides, it’s important that the fish is very dry when the smoking begins and we’ll add more rub and some maple syrup to the fish toward the end of the process.

Dry the Salmon to Form a Pellicle

Lay the rinsed fish onto a Bradley rack for the drying process. I use a second Bradley rack over the top so I don’t have to worry about anything falling onto the fish in the fridge.

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Just a tip: Use wire bread ties to connect the two Bradley racks together.

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Some folks dry the fish on the counter but I am a safety nut and I prefer to dry it in the fridge.

Why dry the fish?

Salmon have a fatty liquid called albumin and this stuff will ooze out of the fish as it cooks. The albumin also serves to keep the fish more moist while it cooks.

By allowing the fish to dry, it forms a sort of skin called a pellicle which helps to prevent the white albumin from cooking out.

I recommend drying for 2-4 hours if possible. The fish will become sticky and get a sort of translucent look as it dries.

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After drying the fish and allowing the pellicle to form they are ready to smoke.

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Getting the Smoker Ready

This is a great task to get done while the fish are in the last hour or so of drying.

Winter is a great time to smoke fish since it is normally smoked at lower temperatures anyway and if your smoker has a hard time maintaining normal smoking temperatures of 225°F, well then, you are in luck because you only need about 120-160°F to get the job done on this smoked salmon candy.

Start the smoker out at about 120°F and once it is holding steady, the fish are ready to smoke.

Here’s Some Information on a Few Popular Smokers

Here’s some information that I have written on various smokers.

Note: In colder weather, it is advisable to preheat the smoker at least an hour or more before you are wanting to use it. Keep the door closed as much as possible and even skip basting if necessary to maintain proper smoking temperatures.

Smoking the Salmon Candy

Place the salmon candy into the smoker. If you are using the Bradley racks then just lay it on the grate or you can lay the fish directly on the smoker grate. You might consider brushing a little olive oil onto the bottom of the fish pieces just before placing them on the grate to prevent any sticking.

I recommend using apple or alder wood and keep the smoke going the entire time.

Depending on how thick your pieces are cut and how dry you want the smoked salmon candy to be will determine the length of time that it spends in the smoker so you will have to do a little bit of testing after 3-4 hours of time. I always tell folks to make extra and to test a piece every 30 minutes until it gets to where you like it.

Write down how long it took and you’ll know next time what to expect.

My fish was about 1 inch thick and I like it pretty dry but not so dry that it becomes chewy. I maintained the temperatures above almost to a tee in my smoker and it took 6 hours to become smoked salmon candy perfection.

2 hours at 120°F

then..

2 hours at 140°F

then..

2 hours at 160°F

The Glazing

This important step is what helps to make the smoked salmon candy sweet and gives it that nice sweet and spicy layer on the outside.

Mix the 2 ingredients together well and brush onto the salmon every hour starting at the 1 hour mark. Depending on how much salmon you make and how generous you are with it, you may need to make another batch.

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Finishing the Smoked Salmon Candy

What a great snack this is!

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Love the sauce and rub
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Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! ~Peter S.
I tried the rub on a beef
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..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
Love the original rib rub
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 Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.


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Printable Recipe

3.0 from 2 reviews
Smoked Salmon Candy
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Hot Smoking
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2-3 lb filet of salmon
  • Jeff's rub (purchase recipe here)
  • Real Maple syrup (grade A dark amber is best)
Instructions
Slice into Pieces and Remove Skin
  1. Rinse salmon with cold water
  2. On a cutting board, slice across the fish into 1 inch wide pieces
  3. Remove skin using a sharp knife
  4. Rinse fish under cold water to remove scales
Dry Brine/Marinate the Salmon
  1. Place a layer of rub into a plastic or glass bowl.
  2. Place the fish onto the rub.
  3. Sprinkle a layer of rub onto the top of the fish pieces.
  4. If you need to double-stack the fish, place another layer of rub then more fish.
  5. Finish this layer with a layer of rub on top.
  6. Place a lid on the container and place in the fridge for 8-12 hours or overnight.
  7. Rinse the rub from the fish using cold water and lay on paper towel to drain.
Dry the Salmon
  1. Place the salmon on a Bradley rack or similar with at least ½ inch between pieces.
  2. Place rack in fridge for 3-4 hours to allow the fish to dry and form a pellicle.
Smoking the Salmon
  1. Setup smoker for cooking at about 120°F
  2. Place salmon pieces directly on smoker grate for 2 hours.
  3. Increase heat to 140°F
  4. Continue to cook salmon for 2 hours
  5. Increase heat to 160°F
  6. Continue to cook salmon until it has reached the desired dryness/texture
Glazing the Salmon
  1. Mix together ¾ cup of maple syrup with 2 TBS of Jeff's rub to create a glaze.
  2. Brush the glaze on the salmon pieces every hour while they are in the smoker

 

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About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

22 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Marcus July 14, 2016 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Do you have any tips for the amount of charcoal to start with & maintaining this low temp in a Weber smokey mountain smoker?

  2. Julia May 21, 2016 at 8:15 am - Reply

    This recipe looks super delicious and I can’t wait to try it with my family.?

  3. Corey February 12, 2016 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Jeff,
    When glazing the salmon do you turn it over occasionally to make sure the pieces are evenly coated?

    • Jeff Phillips February 15, 2016 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      I did not do that on my latest batch but it certainly would not hurt anything.

  4. Steve January 7, 2015 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Everybody I’ve made this for has thought it was amazing. I did cut down a little on the salt used for brining and that made a big difference. Other than that it is an awesome recipe.

  5. Bruce December 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Just ordered your book “Smoking Meat” does it contain your rub recipe?

    • Jeff Phillips December 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

      The (2) recipes that I sell on the website and in the newsletter are not included in the book. We have opted to keep them separate since so many people have purchased them prior to the book being published.

      Please let me know if you have further questions about the book or the recipes.

      Have a great day!

  6. Tim Guemmer October 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I thought very salty will try other method maybe less salty

  7. Tim October 25, 2014 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Hey jeff I have a Masterbuilt electric smoker can you post some of the smoking processes using this smoker

  8. Kully October 9, 2014 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    Jeff
    As someone else said very very salty. I have to agree. I followed your recipe and steps to a T. The salmon came out very very salty. Will brush my maple syrop sauce once the peices have cooled but am thinking it might to garbage. Good thing I only made 5lbs up. $12.00 per pound still a tad pricey but live and learn. Next batch I will cut the salt in half.

    CHEERS

    Lorne

  9. Scott June 22, 2014 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Tried this recipe again this weekend using the alternate method and actually cut that salt amount in half. Came out perfect. For those on a low salt diet, this was the way to go. Made half the batch in candy and the other half just regular smoked salmon. Will do this one again, thanks for sharing all your recipes.

  10. Scott May 19, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Came out too salty for our taste. My “light layer of kosher salt” was probably too much salt, although it looked exact to the pictures. Texture of the fish and the smoke was perfect. The “candy” coating was great. I’ll try the “alternate method” next time and only add the specific amount of salt to the rub to be able to measure/monitor the salt amount added. Used an electric smoker which had no temperature control, so lifted the lid/opened the door to keep temps lower during the first part of the process. Thanks for the recipe. Everything is a new experiment. Thanks for the website, appreciate all the recipes. And, your rub is great!

  11. Terry May 15, 2014 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    “Dry Brining” – you mean “curing”.

    • Jeff Phillips May 16, 2014 at 2:18 am - Reply

      No.. curing is a totally different thing using curing agents such as pink salts, tenderquick, etc.. To dry brine you simply coat the outside of meat with regular kosher salt and the liquids are drawn to the surface. They salts and liquids combine and are then drawn back into the meat. It is using the juices in the meat to brine rather than soaking the meat in salt water as you would in wet brining.

      I am not an expert at dry brining but I have been experimenting with it and I really like the results I am getting.

  12. Jason D February 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Just made the candy salmon and it came out great! Very yummy!!! Had to tweak things a bit being this was an “experiment” (haven’t smoked fish before). I did use grocery store salmon (little over 1lb) since that’s all we have in South FL. I have a Masterbuilt Pro gas/charcoal smoker, and just use the gas w/ wood chips. Being that it maintains roughly 180 degrees on low, it was finished in about 3 hours (to my liking). Fish was not dried out or chewy. As you would say in the fishing world, “this one’s a keeper!”

  13. Al February 2, 2014 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Hey Jeff,
    Love your recipes and this smoked salmon will be my next project once the weather gets above 0 degrees here in Minnesota. Thank you also for your email newsletters. As an early adopter (and purchaser) of your recipes, you could do me a favor by eliminating your sales pitches for the same recipes as you promise to do for current purchasers. Whadda you think?
    Smoke on!

  14. Deb February 2, 2014 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Bookmarked!!! Sounds simple & delicious

  15. Deb February 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Great post! I am gonna have to try this(saved recipe) ! Sounds DELICIOUS!

  16. Harry January 31, 2014 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    I would’ve included a picture but it was all gone before I could get my camera out…need I say more?
    I have some red alder smoked sea salt, grounded it up and sprinkled it on one side of the glazed salmon for the last 2 hours, flavor was fantastic.
    I did not glaze every hour – will try that next time.

  17. Michaela January 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Can I smoke the salmon at a higher temp? At these low temps we have a hard time keeping our big smoker going.

  18. John January 23, 2014 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Jeff
    Hey – I did an auto save of your new recipe format to my cookbook – it worked! Well, except it did not capture the picture, but everything else was captured well. I am glad that you are adding this feature, it makes it really convenient to add recipes. I am using Paprika for the Mac and iPad. It has an Autosave feature that can be added to Safari or Chrome and it will capture the recipe and sync up with the recipe application. Also, the salmon candy looks great, need to find some fresh salmon now

  19. Brad January 23, 2014 at 8:38 am - Reply

    On the off chance (highly unlikely) there are any leftovers, do these need to be refrigerated. One one hand they have the word candy in there which makes me think not. On the other hand, it is fish which tends to lean towards refrigeration.

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