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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Salmon Candy

Technically, this is not a Japanese dish, but I put it in here for two reasons. First of all, Japanese people LOVE smoked salmon. Go to any souvenir shop in Seattle or Vancouver and you will see Japanese tourists buying smoked salmon by the ton. Second, this dish is Native American in origin and I heard that Native Americans originated in Asia and crossed to North America via the Bering Land Bridge during the Pleistocene era, so I figure that at some time in the past the progenitors of the current Japanese race were making a similar product in a smoke house somewhere west of the Aleutian islands.

Spring is here and I've been toying with the smoker the last few weekends, as I get myself into shape for the BBQ season. Chiko mentioned that her store ( ) had been getting a super sweet, carmelized smoke salmon product called salmon candy, but their vendor could no longer supply it. The gauntlet was down and try as I might, I could not resist the chance to pick it up! I did a little research online, including a query to my favorite barbecue site:

Recipe in hand I was committed to producing a test batch of salmon candy, and hopefully coming up with a method for Chiko to make some for the store with their in-house smoker.

Through my beloved fishmonger, I obtained a filet of wild coho salmon.

Seizing the opportunity to break out my prized (and rarely used) sashimi knife,

I sliced the coho into 1/4 inch strips,

and brined them in a mixture of:

2 cups water

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground dried juniper berries

After three hours, I removed the salmon from the brine and dried it on a cake rack in the fridge.

In to the smoker at 225 degrees, basting hourly with a 4:1 mixture of honey and water.

After three hours I removed the racks from the smoker, flipped the salmon slices over and returned them to the smoker. Continued basting the salmon hourly, and also sprinkled additional brown sugar on each piece. After three more hours, the salmon pieces took on a lovely mahogany hue with a chewiness and incredible shine. Tastewise, imagine a salmon flavored Twizzler.