Smoked Salmon
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Smoked Salmon - Alton Brown

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
2 large salmon fillets or sides, pin bones removed

In a bowl, mix together salt, sugar, brown sugar and peppercorns. Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic. Lay 1 side of the fish skin down onto the rub. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon. Place second side of salmon, flesh down onto the first side. Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on the top piece. Fold plastic over to cover then close edges of foil together and crimp tightly around the fish.

Place wrapped fish onto a plank or sheet pan and top with another plank or pan. Weigh with a heavy phone book or a brick or two and refrigerate for 12 hours. Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours. Some juice will leak out during the process so make sure there's a place for the runoff to gather.

Unwrap fish and rinse off the cure with cold water. Pat salmon with paper towels then place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity. A fan may be used to speed the process.
Smoke fish (see Note) over smoldering hardwood chips or sawdust, keeping the temperature inside the smoker between 150 degrees F and 160 degrees F until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Trout, mackerel, and bluefish also smoke well.

In the show, Alton made his own smoker using a cardboard box and two wooden dowels poked through the box to hold an oven rack.  For heat, he used an electric hot plate and placed a cast iron skillet full of saw dust on it for the smoke.  Because the fish will drip oil and possibly cause a flame up, he placed a perforated disposable aluminum pie pan over the top of the cast iron skillet and hot pad.

Notes:  Due to unforeseen circumstances, I left the fish wrapped in the cure for about 36 hours on my first go of this recipe.  The result was extremely salty.  I'll try reducing the salt, increasing the sugar, and sticking and 18 to 24 hour cure next time.

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