Alan's Smoked Salmon Recipe

This recipe was developed over 6 years while in Alaska

Smoked Salmon
Start to finish: 6-15 hours

Fresh Salmon fillets (do not use previously frozen fish)
2 cups of White Wine (sweeter is better)
4 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup non-iodized salt (canning & pickling or kosher salt)
1 squeeze jar of honey (8-12oz)
Bags of Wood Chips (I prefer alder and cherry)

Alternate Ingredients:
Pepper, Tabasco, Paprika, Dill, just about any spice...
You can also substitute molasses for honey

Fillet, de-bone and wash salmon thoroughly. Cut on a diagonal through the meat, but NOT through the skin every 1" or so.
Combine 2 cups of White Wine, 2 cups of dark brown sugar, 2 cups of soy sauce and 1 cup of salt.
Put brine in non-metal pan. Put a few salmon in pan for 3-4 minutes. Put salmon 1 layer thick in zip-lock bags. Remove all air from bag. Either place open bag in water to seal or use "Alan's" method (suck the air out). Place the sealed bags in refrigerator for 6-12 hours.
Soak wood chips for 6-12 hours prior to use.
Remove fillets from the bags and rinse lightly. Place on a paper towel for 30 minutes.
Start smoker and add chips (wet, but not dripping).
Wait 30-45 minutes until the smoker is smoking hot.
Put fish on racks with skin side down.
Sprinkle brown sugar on fillets.
Drizzle honey on top of fillets. Not too much or it will drip onto the bottom of the smoker and is difficult to clean.
Place racks with fillets in smoker.
Check the smoker every half hour. Add more wood chips when the smoker stops smoking as much.
Add more sprinkled sugar and drizzled honey every hour or two.
You might have to shuffle the racks if the lower fish are drying out too quickly.
It takes 1/2" thick fillets around 5 to 8 hours and thicker pieces 8 to 12 hours.

Alan's note:
1. The quality of the salmon determines the quality of the finished product. In other words, buy the best salmon you can.
     Try to purchase salmon fillets that are fairly even in thickness. Thinner is better than thicker.
     Thick pieces take way longer to smoke and the ends are typically thin and tend to become more dried out.
2. The best salmon in order are - Red, Silver, Pink, King, Dog.
3. Remove all bones, especially the ribs and the pin bones. The pin bones are the lateral bones that run perpendicular to the backbone from inside to the skin.
     The easiest methods to pull them out is pliers or even better heavy duty forceps.
4. I prefer electric smokers, the bigger the better. I got by with a "Little Chief" by Luhr-Jensen for years.
     Make sure you don't use an extension cord. Also, don't put close to an open window.
     Start the smoker on a weekend morning, when you have plenty of time to frequently check the smoker.
5. The more smoke the smoker produces the better.
6. Higher heat is not necessarily better. It dries out the fish more.
7. This recipe typically yields a moist smoked fish. If you want a drier version, use less liquids and/or smoke longer.
8. The moist smoked fish does not have a long shelf life, even in the refrigerator. But it typically was eaten long before it went bad.
9. There is a fine line between the wetness of the chips, the heat and the amount of smoke.
10. The ratio of the ingredients not that important. I never followed an exact amount (in fact that is my philosophy to cooking).