By Father Scott Joseph Garrett, Pastor
One of the many fantastic benefits of being a Catholic Priest in the Alaskan bush is fishing! I love salmon, especially when it is smoked and canned. Out here one can catch the salmon in a net. All residents of Dillingham can get a free subsistence license, i.e. we can catch as many salmon as we can eat in a year, for FREE! I also clean them, fillet them, smoke and can them. It is about a three day process if done right.
There are several different ways to smoke salmon. Below is just one example. My dad taught me this method when I was growing up in Bend, Oregon. My great grandfather (who grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon) taught my dad. So, it is a special recipe handed down from generation to generation. My mom taught me how to can the salmon and my grandmother taught her.
Smoked Salmon Recipe
1. Wild Alaskan Sockeye (Red) Smoked Salmon; eight Salmon.
2. Brine: (Two to One) i.e. two cups brown sugar to one cup salt (my dad always told me to use non-iodized salt).
4. Layer salmon fillets in pan coating each layer with brine.
5. Put in fridge for at least one hour (a day is fine).
6. After brine, rinse each fillet off in cold water.
7. Glaze: Place fish on oiled racks, blow fan over fish for up to 24 hours.
8. Salmon is glazed when the surface of each piece is slick on top.
9. Smoke four hours for canning (flavor intensifies when canning).
10. If not canning, smoke for eight hours.
11. Use Alder wood or what ever you prefer, i.e. cherry wood.
12. The finished product ready to be canned.
Canning Smoked Salmon:
NOTE: This canning process ONLY applies to smoked salmon. Other meats or vegetables require a different set of instructions.
· Put 1.5 inches of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker.
· Wash all the jars in the dishwasher (use ONLY wide mouth pint jars).
· Put something on bottom of the pressure cooker, preferably a rack.
· For smoked Salmon, do not put water in jars.
· Put lids and rings in a pan of hot water on the stove; do not bring them to a boil.
· Rims of jars must be spotless after putting the salmon into jars, use a clean rag.
· Put jars in canner, put lid on canner, turn stove on high.
· Leave the pressure regulator off.
· Let steam blow out of hole for 10 minutes (important for sterilization).
· Put pressure regulator on (the little circular donut, put on 10psi).
· After the gage reads 10psi, start decreasing heat.
· Watch closely; do not let it get over 10psi or so.
· Some canners have special donut regulators that do not allow going over 10psi.
· Donut regulator: Set stove heat so the pressure regulator barely has a hissing noise.
· At 10psi, cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
· After 1 hour and 45 minutes, slide cooker off of hot burner and let cool.
· Do not take pressure regulator off until completely cooled, may take several hours.
· After cooker cools, take of pressure regulator, then take of lid, then take out jars.
· Cricket noise: count the number of cricket noises you hear as the canner cools.
· The cricket noise is the sound of each jar sealing.
· Set Jars on dishtowel for 20 minutes, may have to wipe them off with a damp rag.
· Tap jars on the top with tablespoon, a thud sound means that it has not sealed.
· A tight clear ringing sound means that it is sealed.
The Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon is ready to store on your shelf for when that cold weather sets in and you are relaxing by the wood stove.