It is best to salt or brine fish before smoking. Put enough salt into water so that it will float a potato. Allow 20 minutes brining for small fish, but 2 or 3 hours for larger fish. Smoking time will vary according to the fish – about 8 hours will smoke haddock lightly, but 24 hours for kippers. A salmon may be smoked for only 8 hours if it is to be eaten quickly, but is better with salting and longer smoking for longer storage in a cool larder, not a refrigerator.
A salmon needs to be boned before smoking. Scale the fish first, then lift up some small pieces of skin on each side of the back where the flesh is thickest. Slice these off with a sharp knife, to leave ½in/12mm length diamond-shaped pieces of bare flesh. Rub a pinch of saltpetre into each piece of flesh. Fillet the salmon, cutting on each side of the fins and then remove all bones. Leave the stiff bone under the gill covers to act as a support for hanging. Put salmon sides on a dish and cover with a handful of soft brown sugar and three handfuls of cooking salt. Some people like to rub rum into their salmon too. Turn over the fish next day (the salt will have created a brine) and leave until the following day. Wash in cold fresh water, wipe dry and smoke.
© 1978 Mary Norwak estate. All rights reserved.