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Big Chief smokers at Canadian Tire go for about a hundred bucks; automatic ones are hundreds more. Either way, basically you get a box with a shelving unit and an electric coil on the bottom that you put a pan of wood chips on to generate smoke.
Learning to judge when your salmon is smoked halfway before you put it on the bar-b, as Dave suggests, "is more of a visual thing than a timing thing." It depends on several variables, like how fatty your fish is, and how thick the piece is. A 3/4-inch salmon steak will need a couple of hours; a 30-pound spring will take half a day.
To finish your salmon steak to a perfect medium rare (most people tragically overcook fish), toss it on a hot grill just long enough to get grill marks on both sides.
If all this is sounds too onerous, you can get that wonderful smokin' flavour easily in your kitchen. It might get a bit smoky, but what the heck - you only live once.
Place your salmon steaks or filets in a slightly warm oven - less than 100 degrees. Put some wood chips in a pan on a hot stovetop burner. Once they start smoking, put your pan of wood chips in the oven, underneath the fish. Leave it smoke, then finish your salmon by turning up the oven or throwing them on the grill.
If you want to get authentic, says Dave, you brine your salmon before you start. Then you're on your way to that heavenly-smoked salmon worth its weight in gold - Indian candy.
Make a solution that's three parts brown sugar to one part coarse salt and just enough water to dissolve it, so it's liquid but still fairly thick. Soak your salmon in this solution for 12-16 hours, or longer. The length of time will determine how candied it is. If you want it really candied, keep it in the brine solution until the fish is almost translucent; then it's a four-hour smoke in your Big Chief.
You can also try Dave's famous smoked apple rosemary chicken. Get a whole frying chicken (about 3 to 5 pounds) and start by soaking it in a weak brine solution: Dissolve 1/4 cup of coarse salt and 3/4 cup of brown sugar in enough water to cover the chicken in a big pot.
Soak it 4 to 5 hours. Remove it and use a knife to poke small holes in the skin so you can stuff in small twigs of fresh rosemary and chunks of peeled garlic. It looks fine if you leave the rosemary sticking out a bit. Then stuff the chicken with a peeled Anjou pear and a tart, green apple to help keep the inside moist.