The flavor of the spruce tips we recently came across- citrus, pine, faintly berry, seemed a good pairing for salmon. Having some coho fillets in the freezer from last fall, we essayed to cure and smoke some salmon for summer snacking. For a first try, the cure was:
1 1/2 c kosher salt, processed with 2 T spruce tips until the tips were finely ground, then allowed to infuse overnight;
1 c white sugar (brown sugar seemed to overpoweringly sweet, with the molasses element competing with the spices)
1 heaping T coarse ground black pepper
1 heaping T coarse ground white pepper
I didn't use all of the cure, but patted two fillets (small fillets, a little over 2 lb each) with a cup or so, then wrapped them tightly with plastic wrap (leaving the excess cure on) and refrigerated them, under weight, for twelve hours. We then unwrapped and rinsed the fillets, which had lost about a half a cup of moisture.
Patted dry, they went on a rack in the refrigerator overnight to develop a tacky surface to aid smoke absorption.
Next morning, the fillets went on the smoker. This time I used cherry wood, courtesy of a dwarf tree that decided life in southern NM was too much for it. Five and a half hours later (what Fearnley-Whittingstall calls "rough smoking", that is, neither true cold-smoking below 90 F, nor hot smoking at a temperature to cook) I declared the salmon done.
The verdict? More spruce. Next time, I'd use three times the amount of spruce tips or as much as I had available. Also, more of both peppers, and a little less salt. The spruce is very faint and the pepper isn't detectible at all. That said, the cherry wood produced a very nice smoke and the finished salmon is quite good. Perhaps we'll serve it with a spruce tip mayonnaise.
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