What have Jonah and I been up to this last week? Smoking salmon! Before Copper River season even started Jonah and I went to a local Little League fundraiser for dinner and a little auction perusing. We ended up walking away with the promise to receive 15 sockeye salmon. Our first 5 were delivered right away. We bought a smoker and went to work. It was our first taste of the 2012 Copper River season and the goods did not last long.
That was May and now we’re halfway through July. With both Jonah and I traveling a lot in June, we postponed our second salmon allotment – 10 Reds from Doug – to July. We weren’t really sure when Doug was going to deliver our salmon until we got a scratchy phone call last Tuesday asking if we could stop by the docks the next day – of course!
We picked up the fish on our lunch break Wednesday and packed them in a cooler to wait in the car for the work day to be over.
10 beautiful fish, mostly ladies.
After work, we were off to the fillet station on Orca Road. We’ve been working on stream-lining our system. Plastic bags hanging on the right. A cooler for the fresh fish and a tub for the fillets.
There was quite a gathering of seagulls waiting to pick apart the empty carcasses. When we were about halfway through, all the seagulls suddenly took flight and disappeared. While thinking how odd they were since we still had a lot of fish to offer, an eagle swooped down and grabbed one of the carcasses. Once gone, the seagulls returned, caws and all.
We filleted the 10 sockeye in little over an hour, an impressive feat for Jonah and I! We must be getting better at being Alaskans. We divided the fillets into 4 portions, for 4 wonderful nights of smoking. Each night, starting with Wednesday night, we cut the fillets into smoke-able chunks, then brined them in 4 parts brown sugar and 1 part salt overnight. Each night we added a little something different to the brine mix: Chili Garlic Sauce the first night, 2 garlic bulbs chopped finely and tons of pepper the second night, Sesame Seeds for the third, and finally the spice, Serrano peppers for the fourth night.
The next morning, the brine was rinsed off and the salmon was left to dry while we were at work.
Each night we rushed home from work to fill up the smoker! Jonah has this great set up under our landlord’s porch (because, of course, it rained all week). He climbed in and out of our bedroom window to check on the fish and add more alder chips.
Ta-da! 4-5 hours later and the salmon is done! So red and juicy, it smells so delicious.
The last step is to vacuum pack them and they’re ready to be stored. Our freezer is now packed with delicious treats. Plus salmon is really good for fetus and infant brain development. Watch out world for our wickedly smart little girl!