Smoked Salmon Candy

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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.

Nowadays, it is just a great, slightly sweet, and sometimes savory, high protein snack.

I don’t make this treat often but when I do it doesn’t last very long. Even the folks who say they don’t care for it, find themselves nibbling at it as if they have no control over themselves.

I tell you.. it is addictive and if I am allowed to do so, I will eat the entire batch myself!

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.

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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. This salmon pieces are packed in my rub and a little kosher salt overnight to dry brine and the flavor that ensues is well worth the wait!

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

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Smoked Salmon Candy

Important Information
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Brine Time: 12 hours or overnight
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 120/150°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 145°F
  • Recommended Wood: Apple or Alder
What You’ll Need
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 a layered mixture of kosher salt and 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.

I use salt along with my rub so that when the moisture comes to the surface, it mixes with the salt AND 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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Next just a very thin sprinkling of kosher salt. The salt is what causes the moisture to be drawn out of the salmon. That moisture will mix with the rub and the salt and be drawn back into the fish and you will end up with a highly flavorful, slightly salty salmon that tastes really good.

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

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Add another layer of salt and then a layer of rub.

 

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If you need to add a 2nd layer of fish, just add more salt on top of the rub like you did in the beginning.

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More salt and a rub layer and you’re good to go.

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To simplify the process, here’s the bottom to top stack up for a single layer of salmon:

rub-salt-fish-salt-rub

For a double layer of salmon, it would be (bottom to top):

rub-salt-fish-salt-rub-salt-fish-salt-rub

Keep the salt layers very light and especially if the fish is on the thin side. You want good coverage but no more than a single layer and only about 50% coverage over all.

Alternate Method: Make one batch of my rub (purchase recipe) and instead of the kosher salt that it calls for, instead add ½ cup of kosher salt. This gives you very close to a 2:1 ratio of salt to brown sugar which is usually what you want in a dry brine.

This mixture can then be sprinkled onto the fish without the need for layering.

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 was very firm and smelled wonderful.

Rinse the fish under cold water and try to get off as much of the salt and rub as possible. The flavors have already done their job and what is left is not needed.

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. (I have children and my projects aren’t always their top priority).

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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. I recommend the Bradley smoker for smoking fish and this smoked salmon candy is no exception. The Bradley 4-rack Digital Smoker will do this fish justice for sure.

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 Bradley 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 is what makes the smoked salmon candy sweet and gives it that nice sweet and spicy layer on the outside so it is important but extremely easy.

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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Printable Recipe (Beta)
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)
  • Kosher salt
  • 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 the Salmon
  1. Place a layer of rub then a light layer of kosher salt into a plastic or glass bowl
  2. Place the fish onto the rub/salt layer
  3. Sprinkle a light layer of kosher salt and a layer of rub onto the top of the fish pieces
  4. If you need to double-stack the fish, place another light layer of salt then more fish.
  5. Finish this layer with a light layer of kosher salt on top and then a layer of rub.
  6. Place a lid on the container and place in the fridge for 8-12 hours or overnight.
  7. Rinse the salt and 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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Comments

  1. Scott says

    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.

  2. Scott says

    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!

    • says

      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.

  3. Jason D says

    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!”

  4. Al says

    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!

  5. Harry says

    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.

  6. John says

    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

  7. Brad says

    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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