Author Topic: White curds  (Read 6435 times)

Offline Jeb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
White curds
« on: September 15, 2006, 04:52:16 pm »
Hello,

I am a new member to the forum but I have been smoking salmon for many years.  I have a question concerning the white curds that form on top of the fish.  I brine the fish, rinse and pat it dry.  I then let it air dry for a while until I get a nice shinny pellicle to form then put it in the smoker and try to slowly bring up the heat. I have played around with the heat with many different scenarios.  I have brought it up so slow that I ending up smoking the fish for 24 hours, but still had the curds form.  I have noticed that the fish looks fine until it reaches about 115 to 125 degrees.  That is when I start to see the curd coming to the surface.  It doesn’t seem to matter how long I leave it at around 100 degrees (I have had it there as long as 8 hours) as soon as I start to creep the heat up to around 115 degrees the curds start coming out. I have read that it is from to much heat to fast, but I don’t think I can bring it up any slower.  I have the vent wide open to allow as much moisture to escape as possible, I like my fish a little dryer.  I have only once been able to keep the curds from forming, but that was about 4 years ago on a propane smoker with no heat control or thermostat so I cannot repeat what I did.   I bought the Bradley because of the ability to control the heat and thought I might have a better chance of keeping the curds from forming.  If anyone has any suggestions on what else I could try I would greatly appreciate it.

Jeb

Offline Wildcat

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 4,848
Re: White curds
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2006, 05:48:08 pm »
Sorry I can't help since I have not yet smoked fish, but I'll bet that Iceman can give some good recommendations.

Wildcat
Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.



CLICK HERE for Recipe Site:  http://www.susanminor.org/

Offline Wildcat

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 4,848
Re: White curds
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2006, 05:49:38 pm »
As a P.S.  Welcome to the forum.

Wildcat
Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.



CLICK HERE for Recipe Site:  http://www.susanminor.org/

Offline TomG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 310
Re: White curds
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2006, 07:14:38 pm »
Hi Jeb, what is your brining technique?

Offline West Coast Kansan

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,093
Re: White curds
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2006, 07:54:01 pm »
Hi Jeb, welcome... I have not done a lot of salmon (except when copper creek goes on sale in So. CA). If I dont spend big dollars on wild salmon and smoke farm raised i will see the white stuff. More like snot than curds though... sorry, I am sure some of the northlanders will be able to help.

Click On Link For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes and Register at this site for Tuesday Night Chat Room Chat is FUN!

NOW THAT'S A SMOKED OYSTER (and some scallops)

Offline Kummok

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,548
  • Friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon!
    • The Captain's Cabin
Re: White curds
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2006, 08:12:17 pm »
Typically, boogers are caused by moisture carrying the fish juices/blood to the surface and is most often caused by too much heat too fast and/or inadequate drying/venting. From your post, it looks like you have covered the bases for typical "fish booger" concerns. Two areas that aren't covered in your post, about which I'd be curious......what type of salmon? If Atlantic farmed, get used to boogers....(actually nuclear waste ;) ;D)...in farmed fish. They use so many chemicals/enhancers/hormones/etc, that ANYTHING could be oozing outta the flesh. As far as the "air dry for a while", I don't know how long that is for you, but I typically dry mine at least overnight, 12-14 hrs, in a cool location. This allows the proper formation ofthe "pellicle, a very thin, shiny "skin" that helps keep the fish moist during smoking and prevents the boogers from forming.

Also unknown and of concern to me, is how the fish has been processed upon catching....it must be bled right away and bled well, preferably by cutting gills on both sides, just after clubbing and while the heart is still beating (Eeeewww....PETA ain't gonna like THAT one :P) This decreases the amount of "fish juices" available to curding.

And, like TomG, I'd be interested in knowing what your brine mix is????

Offline Wildcat

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 4,848
Re: White curds
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2006, 10:31:00 am »
Although I know very little about smoking fish, I do know something about preparing fish for frying and grilling.  I have found that putting bloody fish in a container of highly salted water overnight in the fridge will pull practically all of the blood out (this is the only way you can eat bonita here in Florida).  Likewise with getting rid of the wild taste in game animals (although I do not know why anyone would want to do that).

Wildcat
Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.



CLICK HERE for Recipe Site:  http://www.susanminor.org/

Offline Jeb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: White curds
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2006, 01:08:43 pm »
Kummok
I live in Washington State and fish for Silvers, Kings and sometimes Sockeye when it is open.  I mostly smoke the Silvers because that is what I catch the most of.  As far as farmed fish goes I am an ex-commercial fisherman (Cook Inlet gillnetter 1981-94) and I don’t think I could bring myself to spending money or eating a farm fish.:P  Since then I have had to catch my fish the hard way, rod and reel.  I did not know that bleeding the fish just after being caught was so important so I will definitely give that a try.

As far as drying time I will let the fish sit out for 3-4 hours.  I have let it sit in the spare refrigerator for 12 hours and thought that was ok.  When you say a cool spot, what temperature are you talking about?

To answer Tomg I have a couple of brines that I use, one is dry and one is wet.  They are simple and give me the flavor that I am looking for.  I find the dry brine to give me a firmer fish.

Dry:
4 cups brown sugar.
1 cup pickling salt.

I will put down and layer of the brine and then a layer of fish then another layer of brine until I have come to the top of a plastic container.  I will let is sit overnight then rinse it off and pat it dry and lay it out on rack to start drying.

Wet:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup pickling salt
2 Tbl garlic powder (not salt) (optional)
2 quarts water

I will pour all the ingredients into a stainless steel (non-reactive) pot and bring it to a boil.  I do this so the salt and sugar will be completely dissolved.  I allow the brine too completely cool (overnight in the refrigerator) before adding it to the fish.  I will soak the fish over night, then rinse and pat it dry before laying it out to dry. 

Offline iceman

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 4,668
  • 9 out of 10 people like BBQ. The 10th person lied!
Re: White curds
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2006, 03:39:16 pm »
Just a quick 2 cents here. If you're doing larger pieces or even whole fillets (which I do for people who like to have a center piece for a party) your going to get boogers no matter what you do. All I do is wipe them off (with a very soft touch) as they form for the fist hour or two and they turn out just fine in the end. I prefer to cut the fish in strips, (I think Kummok does this also). That eliminates the booger factor for some reason. Maybe it's because you get more surface area per pound of fish for the moisture to escape. Just guessing here. There are so many variances that are involved each time you smoke fish it's hard to pin point an exact set of procedures. Bleeding properly is SOOOOOO important there should be a law out there enforcing it!!! ;D.
Also once the fish is bled and iced down, don't go bending the fish or moving it around for ANY reason until your ready to filet it. The conective tissue in salmon is delicate and tears easily thus letting more "boogers to surface during smoking. Kummok is probably the best sorce of information you're going to find here about salmon. I've been smoking salmon for 30 years or so and still don't know alot of things about it but one thing for sure is proper handling after the catch can make or break a quality product. Okay, so I threw in 5 cents worth, sorry to babble. And BTW WELCOME to the forum Jeb ;D ;) PS Pita's gonna getcha Kummock :D

Offline TomG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 310
Re: White curds
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2006, 05:14:09 pm »
Finally stuck a 35 lb slug earlier this week, (the first smoker of the season).  Didn’t take a picture because I knew if I posted it some ultra-competitive type from either Alaska or BC would immediately one up me with a picture of his or hers 89 lb state record.  :D

Per Kummok it was bleed, gilled, gutted, and iced within 10 mins. of being boated. Once home I filleted, cut into strips and pulled the pins.  Being lazy, I don’t bother to scale or skin salmon. I use a combination of Spyguys lox and Kummok’s dry smoking techniques starting with a dry brine similar to the one Jeb uses,  1 part salt to 2 parts brown sugar with whatever else happens to be near.  This time I threw in a little powdered onion, some allspice, a few bay leafs and some salt free Old Bay Seasoning.  Ended up with about 3 lbs of dry mix.  Coated all the pieces of salmon, layered them in a large plastic storage container, with liberal amounts of dry mix between the layers, and put the whole mess into the refrigerator.  As you know, after about 6 hours the mix has pulled fluid from the fish and the container starts to fill with a thick brown “liquor”.  I don’t try to time brining, every 6 hrs or so, I move the strips around in the gunk.  For me brining is done when I push my finger into the meat and it pushes back.  This batch took 36 hrs. to reach that degree of resilience. Lightly rinse then rack. 

Dry in front of a fan, in cool space until a non sticky pellicle forms. 4 hrs for this batch.

I use a remote box to cold smoke at 65-75* with 10 bisquettes and 2 metal pucks(approx. 3.5 hrs).  Now here’s the neat part,  at this point if you pull the fish, you essentially have Spyguy’s lox.  Normally I plan on doing half the load lox style, and then leave the rest in the oven to finish in a dryer style. 

1 hr @ 100*
1 hr @125*
2 hrs @ 140*
½ hr @ 170*

To date I’ve done about 15 batches using this recipe and have never had “boogers”. 8)

Drying


Non sticky pellicle and ready to smoke


Finished product, lox on the left

« Last Edit: September 16, 2006, 05:41:04 pm by TomG »

Offline owrstrich

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,197
Re: White curds
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2006, 06:42:53 pm »
thanks for the photos... looks real good...

you gotta eat...

owrstrich
i am johnny owrstrich... i disapprove of this post...

Offline TomG

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 310
Re: White curds
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2006, 09:26:27 pm »
Jeb, I dry in my basement shop where the temp rarely gets above 60-65* and use 2 fans, both on high.


Offline jaeger

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
Re: White curds
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2006, 09:29:35 pm »
Nice catch Tom!!!

Offline West Coast Kansan

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,093
Re: White curds
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2006, 09:36:26 pm »
TomG that is great looking product.  Thanks for the cut away views. It gives me something to benchmark against.  I will say I have never had mine turn out that consistent in texture. Looks super!

Click On Link For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes and Register at this site for Tuesday Night Chat Room Chat is FUN!

NOW THAT'S A SMOKED OYSTER (and some scallops)

Offline Gizmo

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 3,922
Re: White curds
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2006, 10:19:40 pm »
Nice info folks.  Started smoking a Wild Sockeye from Costco today.  Fillet and cut into strips Used Kommok's brine over night (actually went about 15 hours as I was in a knife skills class that ran longer than expected). Thanks for the extra explanation of the pellicle.  I was concerned I didn't see anything major forming on the surface of salmon after 4.5 hours under a fan.  The surface did "skin" over and was dry to the touch. 

Sprinkled some extra seasonings on the salmon after racking.  Few hit with cayenne, few with black pepper, and a few with Tres Diablo (mixture with habanero powder).  I am a bit of a pepper head (known at work for a habanero lime cheesecake).  I used ice in the water pan as I saw a post that it helped keep the temp down in the box (I have a 6 rack DBS).  1st hour kept the dual probe (probe placed into one of the salmon strips on the top rack) around 98 Deg for the oven temp.  The second hour just started and I added a few more ice cubes to the water as the oven temp is now creaping up over 100 and I want to keep it under 120 for the next hour.  Will do the 140 and 175 after that.  Will be a long night but want to take some greatness to the football game tomorrow.  Should be a hit with the tailgaters.   
Click here for our time proven and tested recipes - http://www.susanminor.org/