There's nothing quite like the taste of smoked salmon, and believe it or not, salmon is one of the easiest smoked delicacies to create. All you need is a smoker, some simple ingredients, and of course, a fish or two.
Just how you arrive at different flavors of smoked salmon depends on a handful of factors: 1) the brine you use to prepare the salmon for smoking, 2) the temperature at which you smoke the fish, 3) the duration you leave the fish in the smoker, and 4) the type of wood you use. Of course, there are also subtle differences in the way various salmon species taste, and the size of the fish or thickness of the meat also dictate flavor.
When we talk about smoking fish, we're really talking about two different processes: one is hot smoking (with temperatures between 140 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit) and the other is cold smoking (with temperatures typically under 100 degrees Fahrenheit). A lot of commercially-smoked salmon is cold-smoked. Perhaps the best smoked salmon you could ever try is a "three-day smoke" of king salmon, smoked on alder wood by Yu'pik Eskimos in Alaska (that's as traditional as it gets). But most of us don't have three days to smoke fish, nor the special equipment needed to cold smoke properly, so we'll talk about hot smoking here.
You prepare your fish by soaking it in brine. A brine should consist of salt water (it might only be salt water), about one teaspoon per cup of water in concentration. You can also add other flavors in the brine: fennel, garlic, dill, chili pepper, onion, and so forth are good matches for salmon. Soak your fresh fish fillets or chunks in your brine solution in a covered container in your refrigerator for at least a few hours but no more than a day.
Take the fish out of the brine and air-dry it before you put it in the smoker.
When you're ready to smoke, try to get the smoker temperature around 150 degrees for starters. Classic smoking woods like hickory, apple wood, mesquite, and so forth are good choices. You want to steer clear of coniferous, softer woods.
Have your fish smoke at that lower temperature for an hour or so; this is when most of the smoky flavor will sink into the meat. You might then gradually increase the temperature for another hour to finish the process. It should take a few hours for the meat to reach a firmness and consistency that indicates it is cooked through and properly smoked.
From there, plate it and serve. But if you vacuum seal the smoked fish and put it in the freezer, it will last for months.
Summer is winding down, signaling that time of year when we all must think about winterizing our boat so it's ready to go again in the spring. Storing your boat properly during those out-of-season months should be incorporated into your overall boat winterization plan, so read on for a few keys points to remember and 10 boat storage "must-dos."
If you plan on storing your boat outdoors during the winter season (and live in a cold weather climate), covering your boat to keep the snow off is a definite "must-do." There are just as many ways to do this as there are boat owners – some use wood frames and plastic tarps, others build PVC fortresses with fancy canvas covers, many boat owners shrink wrap their boats, and a few do nothing at all (which is not recommended). Each method has its advantage and disadvantage, but it all comes down to personal preference.
Check your owner's manuals for any special boat storage recommendations or winterizing procedures. And if you haven't done this before, seek out the help of an experienced friend or hire a professional.
Ten Boat Storage "Must-Dos"
Now that you know how to store your boat properly so it can survive the winter, you will be all set to go at the first sign of calm waters in the spring!
BONUS TIPS: Click here for 10 important tips to help your boat make it through the winter.
Markel American Insurance Company specializes in insuring motorcycles, boats and ATVs. The company is staffed with people who share your passion and know your sport. To talk to one of us call 1-800-236-2467 or visit www.markelinsuresfun.com/tmf.
People often ask me what type of fishing I find most exciting. My standard answer is, "It's all good!" (and I really believe that). But if you press me, I'll admit that for sheer thrill factor, one fishing adventure stands apart from the rest… fly fishing for mako sharks.
I make a point to visit my shark fishing buddies Conway Bowman and Dave Trimble (www.bowmanbluewater.com) in San Diego as often as I can to refill the angling adrenaline tank. The waters off San Diego are one of the world's prime breeding areas for mako sharks, and the best season is between Memorial Day and a few weeks after Labor Day.
Mako shark fishing isn't a terribly technical deal. You motor offshore, and set up a chum slick (with something as simple as a burlap sack filled with a tuna carcass), drift with the wind and currents, and wait. Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes the sharks show up in minutes, like you rang the dinner bell. Sometimes you see them coming, short fins slicing the surface of the waves… sometimes, you yawn and look over the side of the boat, and a 300-pound killer shark is just suddenly there.
Your first glimpse of a mako impresses upon you just how perfect an oceanic predator this species is. Mako's have powerful, streamlined bodies. Their gnarled rows of jagged teeth are equally adept at slicing on the move, then latching onto stunned prey and shredding it apart.
But the signature appeal of the mako shark is that it is one of fastest fish in the ocean (the sailfish is by most accounts the fastest), capable of speed bursts of up to 60 miles per hour. Mako's are also jumpers, able to leap twice their body length above the water surface.
Now, to put what a mako shark pulling on your reel feels like in perspective: Trout will max out at around 9 mph, and the "lightning run" of a bonefish tops the speedometer at about 26 mph. To be clearer, imagine hooking a 200-pound mako is like tying your line to an NFL wide receiver… only the shark covers the hundred-yard distance of a football field three times faster than the receiver, then jumps over the crossbar of the goal posts.
Of course, there's also a danger element involved with fishing mako sharks. Because they jump, you want to hook them (you use foot-long orange flies and 14-16-weight rods) as the fish is swimming away from the boat, so they don't jump in with you. And releasing the fish can be a little tricky. Interestingly through all their years of guiding for thousands of mako sharks, Bowman and Trimble have managed to release every one, and keep all their fingers in the process.
If you're looking for the ultimate angling thrill ride, this is it. It isn't for everyone (especially not for those prone to sea sickness)… but once you feel the pull of a mako shark, and watch it jump with line screaming off your reel, your fishing world will change. Trust me.
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. He is the co-author of four books, most recently the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.
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