Author Topic: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle  (Read 5017 times)

Offline Coho_killa

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HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« on: November 17, 2005, 03:53:12 PM »
I have read so many different opinions on cold smoking in the BS that I am now unsure if I have ruined this piece of fish. Here is what I did.

Fish: Single Coho fillet (2.5lbs)previously frozen at -16 for a month, stomach wall bones removed, slits cut lengthwise in the thickest section of the fillet , fillet cut in half widthwise at the thickest section. Approximate size of thickest section was 1.5 inches or a tad over. This was a nice big Coho. I am really careful handling fish so this fish was prepared like this before it was initially frozen to avoid handling it too much. Basically all I had to do was rinse it and drop it in the brine after it thawed out.

Brine was 1 cup pickling unionized salt, 1 cup soy, 1 cup water, 1 cup white wine and well a lot of sugar, probably 2 cups, a touch of curie powder and onion flakes and lemon pepper. I tasted the brine for saltiness and it seemed pretty good compared to the other brines I have used for hot smoking. Almost all the salt would mix in which tells me there was enough salt since the old fashioned Brines I had instructed to add salt until it would no longer dissolve.

Cured the fish for 21 hours in a plastic bag mixing every few hours to ensure good absorbtion. Checked the fish and It felt firm all over. Placed it on a rack in the fridge for another 18 hours and what I thought was a nice pellicle had formed. Glazed and tacky but no residue when I touched it. Was this correct?

Prepared the smoker for cold smoke by turning on the burner only (element unplugged) and cracking the door open a tad with a tongue depressor. The heat maintained 85F and when I added some alder it went to 90-95 so I cracked it open a little more to get a stable heat of 85-90F and placed the fish on the second to top rack. The smoker was outside and its pretty cold here in BC, just above freezing.

I read that cold smoked fish can take anywhere between 1-4 days and its been in the smoker for about 16 hours with smoke on for 8 since some of the smoke was escaping through the crack in the door I didnt think 8 hours was too long for smoking. I checked the thickest piece with a knife by poking one of the slits I made and it was soft almost mushy.

My question to you cold smoke gurus is this:

Will the thick sections firm up if I keep the smoker at 90-100? or will I have to finish it off at high heat 140F+ to get that section firm?  

Any thoughts or corrections would be greatly appreciated.

Offline bsolomon

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Re: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2005, 09:00:59 PM »
Well, I don't know if I can address everything, but there are a couple of areas that jump to my attention.  First of all, I'm not sure if you were foloiwng any predetermined procedure, but if you are interested in a mehtod that makes fabulous cold-smoked salmon (lox-style), then you should try SpyGuy's recipe http://susan.rminor.com/forums/showthread.php?t=103.  

The first thing I see is your brine mixture looks very light on the liquid side of things.  Typically, a basic brine will be 1 to 2 cups each of salt and sugar to a gallon of water.  with 3 cups total salt/sugar to 3 cups liquid that contains soy, I would expect this to come out pretty salty.

Second, your brining time seems excessive.  the lox recipe calls for a dry cure then a wet brine, for a total of 14-16 hours, and Kummok's hot-smoked wet brines for up to 12 hours.  Again, with 21 hours of brining, I would think the fish would end up way too salty, especially with the higher concentration of salt in your liquid mix.

Next, as to smoking time. 1-4 days in a smokehouse is probably a bit different than smoking in a Bradley.  Most people do not smoke anything for longer than 4-5 hours (although total cooking time can be much longer than that).  For both the cold and hot-smoked salmon recipes, the recommendation is around 2 hours of smoke.  Again, I would suspect that after 8 hours of smoke, you would have a product that tastes much like an ash try, although the fact that you had the door open might save you there somewhat.  If possible, you might want to try either a remote smoking chamber or trays of ice in the cabinet to allow you to get the door closed and still keep the temp in the 80 degree range.

If you do attempt to finish it at 140 rather than just cold-smoking it, you will effectively be changing it to hot-smoked instead, and the resulting texture will change drastically.

I don't know if any of this will save this particular fish, but it may help for next time.

Offline Coho_killa

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Re: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2005, 09:13:09 PM »
<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by bsolomon</i>
<br />Well, I don't know if I can address everything, but there are a couple of areas that jump to my attention.  First of all, I'm not sure if you were foloiwng any predetermined procedure, but if you are interested in a mehtod that makes fabulous cold-smoked salmon (lox-style), then you should try SpyGuy's recipe http://susan.rminor.com/forums/showthread.php?t=103.  

The first thing I see is your brine mixture looks very light on the liquid side of things.  Typically, a basic brine will be 1 to 2 cups each of salt and sugar to a gallon of water.  with 3 cups total salt/sugar to 3 cups liquid that contains soy, I would expect this to come out pretty salty.

Second, your brining time seems excessive.  the lox recipe calls for a dry cure then a wet brine, for a total of 14-16 hours, and Kummok's hot-smoked wet brines for up to 12 hours.  Again, with 21 hours of brining, I would think the fish would end up way too salty, especially with the higher concentration of salt in your liquid mix.

Next, as to smoking time. 1-4 days in a smokehouse is probably a bit different than smoking in a Bradley.  Most people do not smoke anything for longer than 4-5 hours (although total cooking time can be much longer than that).  For both the cold and hot-smoked salmon recipes, the recommendation is around 2 hours of smoke.  Again, I would suspect that after 8 hours of smoke, you would have a product that tastes much like an ash try, although the fact that you had the door open might save you there somewhat.  If possible, you might want to try either a remote smoking chamber or trays of ice in the cabinet to allow you to get the door closed and still keep the temp in the 80 degree range.

If you do attempt to finish it at 140 rather than just cold-smoking it, you will effectively be changing it to hot-smoked instead, and the resulting texture will change drastically.

I don't know if any of this will save this particular fish, but it may help for next time.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

OOps ok So replace the 1 cup of water with 1 liter and consider...my bad. I took the fish out and sampled a small thinner section and it was actually really good so as far as the taste goes not very salty but im not sure this is safe since its only been at 90F the whole time. Do I have to finish it off at 140 to kill potential microbes?

If not I will cut off the thinner sections that came out ok and finsih the rest for texture and remember to cut thinner fillets next time.

Offline bsolomon

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Re: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2005, 10:43:07 PM »
Cold-smoked salmon is never taken above 80-90 degrees at the most.  From a food preservation standpoint, the curing step acts as a preservative, as does the smoking step.  Many people then vaccum seal and then freeze, which are also both preservative steps.  So even though it is never taken above 140 degrees, I would say bacterial growth is probably reasonably well retarded.

Like any other cold-smoked fish, you should treat it as what it is:  a product that is somewhere between raw and fully-cooked.  So people who would be susceptible to raw fish (i.e., shouldn't eat sushi or sashimi due to certain medical conditions) probably should avoid cold-smoked fish as well.

Offline tsquared

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Re: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2005, 03:36:12 AM »
Coho--Bsolomon has given some good advice(as usual) but I would add that at the end of your brine AND your drying period that the best tester you have is the Mark I finger. Use your index finger to push down on your fillet--if it feels firm on the outside but mushy in the middle, you need more time in the brine, or more sugar and or salt.At the drying stage, you are already checking for a pellicle but you should also be testing for firmness with your finger. If it springs back and feels fairly firm you are good to start the smoke.
T2

Offline gotbbq

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Re: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2005, 01:04:03 PM »
The smoke doesn't add any firmness to the fish.  That (mostly) comes from the brine.  I currently have 10 lbs of salmon and a 10 lb loin of ahi tuna in the wet brine.  Check out spyguys recipe.  I have tried a few dozen, his is the best.

Gotbbq

gotbbq

Offline SMOKEHOUSE ROB

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Re: HELP! 16 hours cold smoke still soft in the middle
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2005, 02:10:02 PM »
when you make your brine, to check the salt content, put a egg in your brine if it dosent float add more salt untill the egg floats,