Norwegian Smoked Salmon Fillets

1 whole salmon (7-8 pounds) filleted
2 cups canning/pickling salt
2 cup brown sugar
1 tbs. crushed juniper berries
1 tbs. crushed pink peppercorns
1/4 cup dry red wine (merlot or pinot noir)
1/4 cup Meyer's rum

Clean and fillet the salmon into two fillets, skin on, and place skin side down in a container large enough to hold the fillets without folding or stacking.

Mix the cure ingredients together into a uniform slushy paste and pour on the fillets.

Let fillets cure for 6-10 hours and then rinse lightly with running water to remove any remaining salt/sugar crystals. Pat the fillets dry on both sides, place in a large Ziploc bag in the refrigerator and let the cure permeate the flesh for a few days.

Prepare your smokehouse or smoker in the way you normally do, with the goal being to have the smoking temperature as low as possible. When the smoke is under control, place the salmon on the smoking rack or screen and smoke.

Unless you want to poach or cook your salmon, I would advise never smoking at a temperature above 160 F. This salmon recipe is intended for cold smoking - which must be done at temperatures less than 85F.

Follow the table below for smoking times:

Temperature of smoke, F Hours in smokehouse
80 3
70 3.5
60 4
50 or below 4.5-6

This table is a rough guide and depends on how fast your smoker produces smoke and how strongly smoked you prefer your salmon. At the higher temperatures, the salmon will be partially poached on the outside, but soft and fleshy inside. The closer you get to 85F and especially below, the salmon will come out with the same taste and texture as the finest Norwegian or Scottish smoked salmon - cured and smoked, but completely rare.

My favorite smoking woods are fruitwoods like cherry, apple, peach and pear, and some nut woods like hickory.

After the salmon is done smoking, place it in a Ziploc bag and remove as much air as possible (I actually use a cocktail straw). Store in the refrigerator. The salmon will continue to cure over the next few days as the salts and smoke permeate the entire fillet.

Then freeze the salmon until a day or two before you are ready to eat. Take the salmon out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Then you may slice the partially frozen salmon as thin as you like - even paper-thin. Place each slice on a piece of wax paper in the same way it was cut and place back in the Ziploc bag and back into the refrigerator. In a day or so, it will be totally thawed and ready to serve.

Enjoy with a fine Aquavit (kept in the freezer) and capers - or sashimi style with soy sauce and wasabi.

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