Author Topic: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX  (Read 14116 times)

Offline spyguy

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 15
Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« on: February 16, 2004, 01:18:47 am »
After searching for various recipes for good LOX, I finally created this one which is a compilation of many I have heard of, tried and modified. Making good smoked salmon isn't a mystery or a matter of luck, it's a matter of patience and time. With this recipe I have been consistent with my results. This process is for cold smoking salmon (LOX) only, preferably with a Bradley smoker.

My smoked salmon recipe is as follows:

Please read this over a few times, it will help you understand the process.

With this recipe you can make the highest quality LOX you will ever eat. The finished color in almost RED (with COHO) due to the carmel in the brown sugar coloring the fish during the dry brine process. The final texture is like velvet and slices really well.(I slice mine at approx 1/8" thick or a little more). I HAVE TRIED TO EMPHASIZE AND DETAIL THE CRITICAL STEPS AND WHERE TEMPERATURE IS IMPORTANT. If I overdid the details, No apology from me. When I did it for my first time, I would have killed for details. details. details.

Incidentally I recommend the SALMON and HAM knife available at IKEA for $25.00 but keep it sharp and clean.

I have tried many recipes with very good results. After speaking to a few people who do this for a living. I got the process they use but they wouldn't give up the recipe so I created my own. You may add any flavor you want to the wet brine. More garlic, or soya sauce, lemon, corriander seeds There are no rules for flavor. You may use more or less brown sugar depending on your tastes but try mine as is and adjust after you try it.

I promise you won't be disappointed. however labour intensive it is you will thank me. This is a 2 step brining process before cold smoking.

These instructions are for an average sized fish of 10-12 lbs (before being fileted). Coho is best but I have used atlantic with success as well. For smaller fish shorten the time and for bigger fish lenghten time.

1. filet and remove pin bones. Leave fillets whole at this point with the skin on. rinse if you want and pat dry (not completely dry)

Step One Dry Brine:

1. Mix up the following. 5 lbs kosher or canning salt and 6 lbs dark brown sugar. Mix well, use your hands to break up the chunks of brown sugar. This will be used for the dry brining part. You must use COARSE OR KOSHER SALT (non iodized). Any left over dry mix, place in a sealed pail or bag it. It will keep for a long time until you need it again.
2. In a container small enough but large enough for your whole fillets (I know vague as to size but you'll figure it out, I Use a rubbermaid container just long enough for the fillets and wide enough for 2 side by side. Put an even layer of 1/2" of the dry brine on the bottom. Lay first fillet skin side down on this. Now cover fillet with more dry mix (1/2"). Lay next fillet in top with skin side up (meat to meat). cover with 1/2" dry mix. make sure fish is completely covered in the mix (that's why your container is important so you don't waste excess mix) You may continue to layer the fish. You can place them anyway you like as long as they are relatively straight and or flat.
This process will remove excess moisture from the fish and really firm it up. Place this in refrigerator for 7-8 hours. If you forget about it during this part of the process, you will ruin your fish. Set a timer or maybe 2 of them so you don't forget.

Prepare wet brine solution:
While the fish is in the fridge, mix up your wet brining process. I use approx 3.5 gallons of water.(I use a 5 gallon pail for wet brine) to this I add; 6 cups kosher or coarse salt, 6 cups brown sugar, 1 or 2 cups MAPLE SYRUP (the good kind, no Aunt Jemima)some chopped dill to taste, 2 cloves garlic and 1/4 cup whole black peppercorns. mix well to check salinity (how much salt is dissolved in the water) see if a raw egg (in the shell) will float in the mix. If it doesn't add another 1/2 cup salt and mix well. then recheck with the egg. if it still doesn't float add another 1/2 cup salt repeat as needed until it floats. Leave this sit for at least 5 hours before you need it for the next step.

After the 7-8 hours have passed you will see a considerable amount of syrupy liquid in the bottom of the container (the moisture from the fish) now take it out of the fridge remove 1 fillet at a time and cut in half (so it fits the bradley smoker) rinse the mixture off the fish completely. Fish will seem hard, firm and considerably smaller than when you started. the next step will change the texture again. Discard the syrupy mess from the dry brine process (don't use it again either).

Step 2 Wet Brine;
Now place filets in the wet brine cover with a plate so they are completely submerged and leave it for 7-9 hours (refrigeration at this point is optional as the dry brine has pretty much "cooked the fish" already. I do recommend at somewhere near the middle of the wet process, you move the fillets around in the bucket in case some fillets are a little close. When they are done, they need to be freshened (this removes excess salt)

Freshening your fillet:
Remove and rinse the fillets in fresh water. (Rinse out your bucket of all spices, peppercorns etc.) now put the fillets back in the bucket and fill with clean water. Let the water run into the bucket (not too much pressure or you will damage the fish) for 1/2 hour stirring the fish gently with your hand every 7-10 minutes. Taste a small piece of the fish. If still too salty rinse for another 10 minutes but no more or the fish will begin to waterlog (swell). I do mine for 30 minutes and consistently have excellent results.

Drying before smoking:
Remove fish pat dry with paper towel and lay on your Bradley racks skin side down.  (use them upside down that way the fish will be suspended to dry top and bottom) allow to dry for approx 1 hour. (when they become a little sticky on the meat side they are done and ready for smoke.(remember cold smoke only) You may smoke from 1-3 hours depending on your preferences and tastes with alder smoke. (make sure auxiliary burner is off or better yet unplugged from the smoke generator)

I use a Polder barbeque thermometer with the remote pager and have the probe hanging through the top vent and the pager to notify me if the temp gets to 75.
With it being winter, I fill the bisquette bowl with snow and add a good block of snow or ice between the bottom shelf and the lower plate. (even if you cover 2/3 of the holes in the plate, it has no effect on the smoke reaching the fish)As the snow melts it drips into the bowl (not on the smoke burner) good design by Bradley. Place a large aluminum pan under the water bowl to catch any water will overflow from the water bowl. Doing it this way maintains 60-75 degrees when its -10 outside. When my pager goes off telling me its too warm, I know the snow melted and add more. You may use the bottom shelf and fill an aluminum pan, but that way you lose the ability to use the bottom shelf That's up to you. Just watch the temperature (do I need to say it again)

I Just smoked 60 lbs of fresh Alaska COHO fillet On Valentines day. This is my method. If you have any questions let me know. For those who try it you won't be sorry. Please post your results.
feel free to share this with others but please give credit where it is due.

The next time I smoke salmon, I will take illustration pictures to go along with this and post the link here.

(edited to reflect the post by Chez Bubba)

Mitch Unger

Offline Mando

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2004, 03:51:30 pm »
Sounds great, gonna try it next weekend Thanks

Offline Oldman

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 5,654
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2004, 08:23:21 pm »
Not fair....where I live it is already 85 F! In the winter we are lucky to see a few days at 35 F.

Nevertheless, thank you for your effort in sharing this nicely done reciepe! Outstanding job!

BTW At the moment I have two small mullet in a seaoned brim! Now that is my fish of choice. They will be hot smoked. The tourist can have the mackeral.

Next month I will head out to this big Ole Clam bar that no one seems to know about. I will grab me a few dozen Little Necks (2 inches max.) At dark I will then head into the grass flats and grap a few dozen shrimp and a couple bull-nosed lobsters.

After cleaning and shelling I will smoke them as cold as I can (sic) and then finish the clans in an oven while I finish cooking the rest over direct oak wood in my Green Egg~~!

Going to try cooling down the BS by using the bottom shelf to hold ice that is in a pan with several holes in it, so the cold water hits the deflector below it adding to the cooling.


Edit to remove sig-pic

Click On The Portal To Be Transported To Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes~~!!! 

Offline mutts

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2004, 12:06:30 am »
Today, I tried the lox recipe from spyguy.
Lots of prep time, lots of "fiddly work" to get the salmon ready for its short cold smoke time.
It was however, worth every minute !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The end result was beyond belief!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You gotta try this... MAGNIFICENT!!!
Thx for a great recipe

Offline David6340

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2004, 03:16:20 am »
Does anybody know if this will work with skinless salmon filets?

Offline buck5611

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2004, 10:29:49 pm »
I tried the recipe posted by spyguy. one time with keta salmon and one time with atlantic salmon.I'm very satisfied with the taste of both these salmon but however I would like it to be firmer. in my opinion, it is too soft. A friend who use another recipe let dry the fillet for about six hours before smoking and his fillets are firmer than you tink that the drying time can make the difference? thanks. Carol

Offline veithurst

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2004, 10:13:01 pm »
During a recent trip to Anchorage I ate some of the best lox I’ve ever had and immediately became obsessed with learning how to make an equally delicious product on my own.  After much research, I decided to try Spyguy’s recipe and another one I found at  I didn’t know that silvers were the preferred salmon for lox, so lucky for me that this time of year is the beginning of our silver run in Cordova, AK – home of the world famous Copper River Kings and Reds (I know, I’m lucky).  Anyway, I tried both recipes and Spyguy’s came out on top.  Both were good with great texture but I think the addition of spices to Spyguy’s brine resulted in a better, more complex flavor that still allowed the fresh flavor of the salmon to shine through.  He’s right when he says a good knife is important – I had my husband sharpen up ours so I could cut the lox more easily.  

Here are a couple of things I modified for my first batch:

I only smoked up 2 small fillets so I greatly reduced the amount of wet brine while maintaining the proper proportions - 9 1/3 C Water, 1 C salt, 1 C brown sugar, 1/3 C maple syrup, ½ clove garlic, 1T peppercorns, dill to taste.  Our grocery store didn’t have fresh dill so I used dry dill weed.

Because my 2 fillets were small I only freshened them for 15 – 20 mins.  And, I did this is a big pot in my kitchen sink without running water.  I just let them soak.  If I had a lot more fish in there then I would’ve use the running water method.  I thought that maybe I had freshened the fish too long cause they looked a lot lighter in color when I removed them from the water (thought maybe they were waterlogged), but this changed as they dried.

I had read in a couple of articles that you should let your fish set for 6-12 hours after freshening to allow the remaining salt to evenly distribute itself throughout the fish.  I don’t know if that’s necessary, but I sprinkled one of the fillets with dill, left the other one plain, and set them out to dry on my kitchen counter.  I had a small fan on low pointed in their direction.  I didn’t get back to them until that evening so my fish dried for about 9 hours.  The skin on both had formed a light pellicle.  I preferred the taste of the fillet with the dill sprinkled on top.

I use a homebuilt smokehouse with a hotplate for a heat source and to keep the temp low I smoked my fish for 3 cycles:  1 small pan of alder chips heat on for 10 mins, heat off for 15 minutes.  Add chips as needed, heat on for 10 mins heat off for 15 mins.  Final pan of chips heat on for 10 mins heat off, let sit for 30 mins to take advantage of the remaining light smoke.  

The final result was beautiful to look at with a deep red color.  The texture was firm (not mushy) and sliced well with a sharp knife.  The flavor was wonderful and tasted great with cream cheese, a few capers and some thin slices of red onion.  Next time I’m going to increase the garlic, pepper and dill in the wet brine to see what kind of affect it has on the finished product.   I also froze one of these fillets to see how it affects the texture/flavor.  I’ve been told that lox freezes well.  

Thank you, Mitch, for your detailed directions and delicious recipe.  I know that putting together a lengthy post like that takes a lot of time.

And to all of you, put Cordova on your list of places to visit.  The town is beautiful, the people are friendly and hard-working, and most importantly…the fishing is great!


Offline Habanero Smoker

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 15,208
  • KCBS - Master Certified Barbecue Judge
Re: Best Smoked Salmon or true LOX
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2005, 04:47:32 pm »
I was lucky enough to come across some yellow fin tuna steaks. That is the tuna often served raw in sushi. I decided to prepare it using spyguy's lox recipe. I used 8 hours each for both the dry and wet brine stages. It came out great. At first I thought that I had ruined it. When I took it out of the dry brine, it was as hard as a rock [:D]. The wet brine restored some of its original texture. Cold smoked it, using 4 maple bisquetes.