Monday, November 21, 2011

Tradition.

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The Smokehouse.

    Every year upon returning home from Alaska, I start thinking about when we will smoke our fish from the summer.  This is a tradition.  Returning each year to the bird farm of my buddy, Steve, we smoke the forty or fifty pounds of salmon we bring home from Alaska in the old smokehouse his grandfather built.

   This is quite the process and requires team work of all three of us to ensure its success.  We typically arrive the evening before smoking day and help prepare the secret brine.  We remove our fish from the vacuum bags, cut them into smaller pieces, then slip them into an age old crockpot for the night.

    Generally we rise early the day of smoking and prepare the racks to hold the fish.  This year we relied on our Tetris skills to position.  With a final layer of pepper, brown sugar, and a few jalapenos, we whisk them into the smokehouse.  Lighting charcoal sets the fire for a nice base and we then lay some old wood pieces on top.  This year we accidentally got the fire a bit hot right off the bat, but hey, it's not solid science.  Soon, we all wander into the nearby woods and Steve cuts down a small vine maple.  After cutting the maple into small pieces and placing two on the fire, it's time to head inside.

    We'll place a log on the fire, something funny in the dvd player, and maybe bust out the cribbage board.  We'll occupy ourselves checking on the smoker every hour or less.  Sometime in the fuzzy late evening we agree the salmon is complete and let the smoking fire die out.  In the morning the salmon will be cool, beautiful, and ready for packaging. 

Salmon in the brine
The Salmon in the Brine.
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One of the coolest trees with the smokehouse in the background.
Bringing in the racks
Bringing in the racks to lay out the salmon.
Poaching the Vine Maple
Cutting down the vine maple for smoking
Cutting the Vine Maple
Making the tree into small logs
Smoking Salmon
Lighting the fire for the smoking process
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Taking a break.
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The delicious finished product.