In a bowl mix together the sugars, salt and peppercorns. Set it aside. Roll out a long piece of plastic wrap. Wash your hands well. Sprinkle 1/3 of the salt, sugar mixture on top of the plastic wrap.
Take your salmon and lay 1/2 of it out, skin side down on top of 1/3 of the salt and sugar mixture on top of the plastic wrap.
(If you have a vacuum sealer you don't need to do this, simply take the fish after you've applied the cure and place it in a vacuum sealer bag and vacuum seal it.)
Run your hands over the fish and feel for tiny bones. These are the pin bones. When ever I clean fish, even if they've come to me already cleaned I go over them with a fine pair of boning tweezers.
Okay, so they're just regular tweezers that I bought specially for this purpose but calling them boning tweezers makes it sound so much more official.
It can be a tedious process but better to take the time in the prep than having to give one of your guests the Heimlich maneuver.
Secondly, go worm hunting. Worms are killed by cooking, (parasites being invisible to the naked eye are not.)
I look for any tiny pinhole type marks, if I find one I go to work with my tweezers. Sure enough, I found a live worm.
This is not meant to gross anyone out, just to let you know that you should inspect and check fresh fish before cooking it.
Now that the fish is bone and worm free, sprinkle another 1/3 of the salt sugar pepper mixture onto the flesh side of one side of the salmon. Rub it in well.
Put the second piece of salmon flesh side down on top of the other piece of salmon.
Rub the rest of the sugar and salt mixture into the skin side of the top piece of salmon. If you're using plastic wrap, wrap the fish as tightly as you can in the plastic.
Place the plastic wrapped fish in a shallow pan or dish to catch the juices that are going to be draining out during the next 24 hours.
If you're using a vacuum sealer place the salt and sugar covered fish in a vacuum bag and seal it tight.Vacuum sealing, you don't need to put the bag in a pan or bowl.
Put a phone book, or any heavy object on top of the fish. I used plastic wrapped bricks to weigh my salmon down. Put your heavy object on your fish and let it sit in the fridge for 12 hours.
Turn your fish over, and weight it down for another 12 hours.
Take the fish out of the plastic wrap, unwrap it and rinse it in cold running water.
Pat it dry gently.
Place the salmon on a rack in a cool dry place (not the fridge) for 1 to 3 hours. What this does is allow the pellicle to form on the fish.
Pellicle is a dry tacky membrane that allows the smoke flavor to stick to the meat/fish and cure it.
I used a Cameron stove-top smoker. Here's what I did. Place 2 Tbs of alder wood chips in the bottom of the smoker.
Put a foil covered drip pan on top of the wood chips Brush a grilling rack with olive oil and place the fish pieces skin side down on top of it.
Smoke the fish until the thickest part registers about 150 degrees. This takes about 25 minutes in a medium heat.
Check the fish with a meat thermometer after about 15 minutes or so. When it's at 150 degrees, it's done.
You can serve it hot or let it cool to room temperature, wrap it tightly in foil and store it in the fridge to be served later. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- 2.0lb Fresh salmon
- 1.0c Kosher salt
- 1/2c Sugar
- 1/2c Dark brown sugar
- 1.0Tbsp Crushed black peppercorns