Traditionally Indian Candy is hot smoked. I prefer mine smoked at a lower temperature. I also prefer to dry brine my fish. It is more time consuming, but the effort is well worth it. The same dry cure can be used to make awesome fish jerky, with a few modifications. Try my recipe and see if you agree.
Mix a 1kg bag of Rogers Demerara or Rogers Best Brown sugar with 7/8 cup of coarse pickling salt. Buy 2 bags of brown sugar in case you need more mix. I have found the Rogers Best Brown sugar dissolves better when using dry brine, so I prefer it. Do not add more than 1 cup of salt, or result will be too salty.
I cut the Salmon several different ways for Indian Candy, try different methods to see which you prefer. It is much easier to cut the Salmon pieces while still partially frozen. De-bone and skin salmon, remove all dark meat before smoking. I cut some pieces into small nuggets approximately 1" in size. Other pieces I cut larger, usually 2" wide, 6" long and 1.5" thick. This brine also produces excellent salmon jerky. If you want to try some Salmon jerky, cut 2" wide, 6" long strips 1/4" thick. Do not use belly strips for jerky as it is too fatty.
Cover the bottom of 8"x 8" Tupperware container with 1/4 inch of salt/sugar mix. Put larger pieces on the bottom layer. Cover bottom layer with another 1/4 inch of brine mix. Continue layering Salmon and brine mix till all Salmon is covered. Place Salmon in refrigerator while brining process continues. The brine mix will quickly begin to draw liquid out of the Salmon. This will form a thick liquid brine that will cure the fish to a very firm consistency. Once the liquid has formed, spices and flavorings may be added to the brine. I usually add crushed fresh garlic (8 cloves), crushed peppercorns (small palm full), grated fresh ginger (2 tsp), grated zest of 1 orange, and half a teaspoon of hot red chili pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp cayenne. Extra flavorings are a matter of personal taste. Add as many or few of your favorite flavorings that you prefer. I also like to add about 4 oz of dark rum to the brine once the fish has already firmed up. Don't add large quantities of liquid flavorings. This will water down the brine or change the salt/sugar ratio. Soya sauce will make the brine more liquidy, as well as being high in salt content, so I wouldn't recommend it.
With experience you will be able to judge exactly when the fish is cured sufficiently. You should stir the fish every four hours or so, to ensure even brining. I prefer to leave the fish in the brine until the meat is well jelled. The meat should no longer be squishy, but you don't want it to get too hard. Very thin slices, such as jerky should be left in the brine approximately a day. Thicker slices should be left in brine for 2 days. Each piece may be ready at different times depending on thickness. Check regularly to ensure that pieces are not becoming over brined.
Once the fish has reached the desired consistency remove it from the brine. This is not a very salty brine, so you can leave the syrupy coating on. If you prefer, rinse lightly with water and place on racks to dry. I bought racks at a cooking supply store with small 1/2 inch grid that will hold the smallest pieces without falling through. I place the Salmon nuggets on these racks. Leave the fish to dry until nice glossy coating forms on the fish. This may take several hours, or if you have the room, place the fish on racks in the fridge until the evening. Sometimes I leave the racked fish to dry in the fridge for a full day after brining. This improves the finish as well as the taste of the smoked product in my opinion. Adds another day to the processing time, but I often do this if there is room in the fridge.
I don't like my fish hot smoked that often, so I will describe the process I use to smoke at a lower temperature. I use a big chief, which normally isn't that good for cold smoking. Follow my tips and you can still use an aluminum smoker to produce a cold smoke, as long as the outside temperature isn't too high.
Wait till after dinner when the temperature is beginning to drop. Plug in smoker, place racks of fish in smoker. Thickest pieces go on bottom rack, thinnest on top. You don't want to raise the temperature of the fish too quickly. Place an object the same height as the bottom of the smoker door in front of smoker. Prop the door to the smoker open at the bottom approximately 1 inch. This will ensure that the temperature of the fish rises slowly. Do not add any chips yet. Let the fish warm in smoker for an hour to an hour and a half. By now, if it's fall or winter the temperature outside should be getting cold. Now, fill the pan half full with Alder smoker chips and place in the smoker. You can close the smoker door fully now, and let the chips burn for an hour and a half to two hours. Don't put another half pan of chips in before an hour and a half. This is very important. Don't fill the chip pan more than half full, or refill too soon or the temperature will rise too high. If the temperature outside is freezing you don't have to worry as much about the smoker becoming too hot.
Three pans of smoker chips will probably be enough to smoke flavor most fish. More pans will give a darker finish to the fish, which is more eye appealing. Cherry wood is also good in addition to Alder chips for smoking. Overnight is usually sufficient to smoke most fish. Unfortunately, chips may need to be added during the wee hours of the morning to keep the temperature low. If further drying is necessary during daylight hours, use smoker chips sparingly. Using smoker chips during the day may result in the temperature rising too high. The smoking time required varies with the thickness of the fish and the degree of moisture the fish contained prior to smoking. The consistency and dryness of the smoked product is a matter of personal preference. Every one seems to prefer the consistency a little different. I prefer to smoke mine so that it is a little hard on the outside but still moist inside.
Jerky is the exception, you obviously want to dehydrate jerky much further. It would take a long time to dry jerky by my method. Therefore, a few modifications are necessary. If you prefer your jerky a little spicier, coat it with cracked pepper and cayenne before placing on the racks and smoking. Smoke the jerky overnight the same as outlined for the Indian Candy. In the morning the jerky should be considerably drier, but shouldn’t need any more smoke flavoring. To speed up the drying process, remove the jerky from the smoker and place in the oven. Turn on the oven to 150 degrees, but prop the door open an inch. Cook the jerky in the oven till it is almost as dry as you like. It will harden further when removed from the oven, so be careful not to dry too long. Fat will probably rise to the surface during the jerky drying process. Use a paper towel to absorb any fat accumulating on the jerky. The jerky should be dry on the surface to prevent spoilage. However, I don’t think spoilage will be a problem. My kids usually devour the jerky before it is a couple of days old.
Finishing Glaze for Indian Candy:
If you want a really sweet Indian Candy, glaze the salmon with the following syrup. Heat 4oz red wine and 4oz dark rum, in a sauce pan. Add 2cups brown sugar, 1cup honey, (or maple syrup), stir until dissolved. Freshly ground pepper or cayenne may be added if you prefer a little extra spiciness. Glaze may be brushed on several or more times during the smoking process. Alternately, you may remove salmon from smoker halfway through smoking and soak fish for several hours before resuming smoking. There is also another way to give the Salmon lover with a sweet tooth what they crave. Simply place the smoked Salmon into this syrup and leave it to absorb in the fridge. When you remove the smoked fish from this gooey syrup it will truly taste like Candy. if you pack the smoked Salmon in the finishing glaze after smoking don't leave it in more than a day unless you want to dry the Salmon a little more. The sugar content will suck more moisture out of the smoked fish even without the salt content. If the smoked Salmon has dried to the texture you prefer, but doesn't have as much smoke flavoring as you like. You can cheat and add "liquid smoke" to the finishing glaze. Liquid smoke is available in most large supermarkets. Add a little bit at a time, as it is quite concentrated. Soak smoked Salmon in smoke flavored finishing glaze for a day. This will give the Salmon a heavier smoked flavor without risking raising the temperature too high by smoking during the warm daylight hours. I don’t know how long this fish will keep when glazed like this. Once everyone tastes this Salmon you won’t be able to smoke it fast enough.
This was great post!! Thanks
Good post. Looking forward to giving it a try.
Sounds like a great recipe!!! Lots of wicked information for everyone.
My lovely lady has decided not to wait till christmas to give me my present as we're making the trek to the in-laws in Calgary this holiday season and it would be kinda hard to justify flying there with a Big Chief smoker and then fly back, knowing Air Canada they'd lose it or damage it in some way. Anyways I've got a nice mixture dry brining in my first attempt at making my own Candied salmon, some Chinook from the Charlottes this summer, a chrome doe chum from the Stave and a small buck Ho from my last day out on Norrish. Can't wait to pick up some chips and get it going tomorrow.
I was wondering what time frame would you use for closed door smoking?? I've heard some people say 2-3 hrs and then others 6-9 hrs. I've got mine cut in 1-2 inch strips and plan on doing it in my backyard and tomorrow is supposed to be a high of -2. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I'd rather not waste my sweet sweet fish that I was lucky enough to fish for and thankfully caught. Cheers and happy holidays.
Put the thickest pieces on the bottom rack and thinnest on top. I would check it after 4.5 hours to see where you are at (use a fork) but it will probably take 6 hrs or possibly more for the large pieces but I usually take mine out around the 6 hr mark. If you are doing a hot smoke I would recommend using the box as an insulator since it will be cold out. Simply cut out a square where the pan goes and a smaller one for the cord and slip it over the smoker. I would recommend 3-4 pans of chips in the beginning or you could use more if you like it extra smokey. The pans take about 40mins to burn (can vary between smokers) and you will have a better more clean tasting product if you change the pans immediately after they have burned through. If you leave them in too long the charred wood burning will affect the flavour. I would recommend basting it with honey with a very small bit of water mixed in to thin it out. If you don't like it sweet skip the basting but it helps if the outside gets dry well before the inside is cooked basting it will help keep the outside moist. There are many variables to smoking so one only gets better at it with time. I would also recommend writing down the different steps you use (length of time in brine etc) so that you can fine tune your smoking method. Not sure what brine you are using but it is generally a good idea to dry the fish out on racks in a fairly cool place for at least 2hrs sometimes overnight depending on the recipe and the desired result. A fan will help to speed up the process and keep the fish cool. The aim is to get a tacky 'pellicle' to form on the fish. Good Luck and let us know how it turns out.
Smoked up a batch of jerky, nuggets, and chunks for the last couple of days. The freezing weather has been perfect for low temperature smoking in an aluminum smoker. I have been leaving it overnight in the smoker for 8-10 hours. That seems to be a good length of time for the way I like my fish, with the freezing weather making the smoker temp very low.
Your milage may vary, keep checking regularly to make sure you get it the way you prefer. My smoker is getting very old now, and I think the heating element doesn't put out the heat like it did when it was new. Which is just the wat I like it, a nice low smoking temp in the cold weather.
Here's to some great smoked Salmon for Christmas.
I did a two trays of candy last week also. Hard couple of days, putting wood in the furnace and watching the smoker. Turned out great, thanks for the recipe Bigguy.
really nice recipe Big Guy, i like the garlic & ginger I was given a Campbell river candy recipe that was similar & I prefer the dry brine also.cheers...Jamie
Lots of good info there BigGuy! Just did a batch of some rainbow last week using pretty much the same recipe. Took a couple pics and thats all thats left to remember it by
Before hitting the smoker:
Some glaze and the little nuggets that didnt make it
Its all in the pursuit!
Nice pics RC, my smoke a thon starts later this week when the temps in Kamloops here warm up, Getting the candy ready as we speak.
always a student
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