Submitted by Stacey Fossen, Shastafjell Lodge 6-108, Redding, Calif.
homemade smoked salmon with dill on a wooden table
1-2 lbs. raw Pacific salmon
1/3 – 1/2 cup salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar
4 large bunches of dill (2-3 cups chopped)
1/3 to 1/2 cup vodka or aquavit
(IMPORTANT WARNING: To eliminate parasites, Pacific salmon must be frozen for at least 2 days before starting the curing process.)
1. Thaw fillet, wash and cut into two equal pieces.
2. Remove any visible bones.
3. Mix together sugar and salt. Add pepper and garlic powder (not garlic salt) to taste.
4. Chop four large bunches of dill (about two to three full cups chopped; use one bunch per side of each fillet).
5. Cover bottom of glass dish with one bunch of chopped dill.
6. Coat skin side of first fillet with dry mixture, place skin side down in dish (dish should be about same size as fish. You don’t want to let the fish “spread” under pressure).
7. Coat “pink” side with dry mix, then add next bunch of chopped dill.
8. Next choose something friendly from your liquor cabinet. Vodka or any spirit that isn’t too sweet works well. We use aquavit. Sprinkle a liberal amount on top of dill and fish (1/3 to 1/2 cup).
9. Coat second fillet (pink side) with dry mix, place pink side down in dish on top of other piece.
10. Use remaining dry mix on skin side of last piece of fish, coat with dill and “bless” with whatever spirit you are using. (There should be enough “liquid” to fill the dish about 3/4 of the way to the top of the fish. That way when you flip it, everything will be “cured” nicely).
11. Get a brick or stone with a flat side, wrap it in plastic wrap to ensure it is sanitary, then place the stone on top of the fish to weigh it down. (I have a paving stone that I wrap in foil and then fit into a Ziploc bag.)
12. Wrap all together (dish, fish, liquid and stone) in foil or plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.
13. For the next 4 days, the fish needs to be flipped, basted and the brick replaced every 12 hours. (My time-saving strategy is to use enough liquor to cover everything. That way you don’t have to flip it. Just wait four days and rinse!)
14. By the fourth day, the fish should be “cured” and needs to be removed from the brine and dill. If it seems a little salty, it can be rinsed in cool water.
15. It is best to re-freeze the fillets to ease slicing. To serve, partially thaw. With the skin side down, slice on the bias – VERY THINLY. Serve, and reap the accolades.
To learn more ways you can prepare salmon, including the ancient Nordic tradition of salmon smoking, check out the July 2018 issue of Viking.