Smoking Alaskan Salmon

Each July we head to the Kenai Peninsula to sip net for the might Sockeye Salmon. Us and thousands of others heard down over a two week period to fill their freezers with these delicious fish.

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Most of the people head to the Kenai River. There you will find an almost carnival atmosphere with thongs of people camping on the beach, bouncy-houses for the kids and even a make-shift church is set up on Sunday mornings.

We go to Kasilof, just about 20 miles to the south. It’s not as crowded but there is still a lot of people. Luckily our friend, Dave is a commercial fisherman and he has a fish camp. We typically drive down on Friday morning and stay through Monday.

If you don’t know what dip netting is, it is where you stand in the water up to your chest and hold on to a huge net with a 10-12 foot handle as the tide is coming in and going out. There are literally thousands of salmon making their way up the river to spawn and we are lucky if they get caught in our nets.


Here in Alaska each resident is allowed to harvest 25 salmon for the head of household and 10 for each additional. Since we are a family of four we are allowed 55 fish. We typically will “fish” all of the tides over the weekend until we get our limit. Some years are better than others but we never take more than we need.

As many of you who have read our blog post on our walk-in smoke house you have asked what is the process we use to smoke our fish. Well here it is:

Filleting the fish


20+ sockeye salmon cut up and in the brine bath to begin the week long smoke house process! The brine bath is 4 cups of kosher salt to about 4 gallons of water.

Brown Sugar and Teriyaki 


We first add 3 one pound bags of brown sugar to the 20+ Sockeye salmon with 3 cups teriyaki sauce and 1/3 cup liquid smoke. Back in the fridge for 4 days, stirring every 6 hours.

[Read…Walk-in Smoke house 

After 4 days


After four days in the fridge and stirring ever 4-6 hours the fish will look like this. They will take on a different texture than before. The meat will be firm. We will then rinse well with ice cold water.

Dry out overnight


After the rinse we will lay out newspaper on our kitchen island and set up fans around it. We will lay the fish out to dry overnight.



We will next smoke the fish in the smoke house for 8-10 hours on a cold smoke (about 110 degrees). We will add pellets about every hour and a half or so.

Smoke system

walk in smokehouse robert forto heat 4

This is our smoke system.

The finished product


We have been told that our smoked salmon is some of the best people have ever tasted. It is a delicious blend of smokey and sweet and not quite the texture of smoked salmon that you are used to but not as tough as jerky either.

[Read…Walk-in Smoke house ]

Ready to go!


We wrap our salmon in plastic wrap and butcher paper and it is ready to freeze. We have found it still tastes great two seasons later.

A little trick we learned is when you take the fish out of the freezer, remove the wrapping paper and the plastic and place it in a brown lunch sack. This helps draw out some of the moisture from the freezing and the fish tastes great!

We use our smoked salmon in soups and stews, with noodles, in dips and as a spread. I loved to take it with me as a snack on the sled dog trails as well.

Learn more about our walk in smoke house here: [Read…Walk-in Smoke house ]

If you have any questions, please let me know.

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