Reviewed by CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
Forget dried tomatoes, banana chips, apricots or other fruits and vegetables that can be made in a food dehydrator. I like meat and my success with using a dehydrator to make venison jerky last winter, I got the idea of making salmon jerky now that the summer fishing season is on. With a bit of experimentation, I’ve come up with several recipes I love to eat and am proud to share with friends.
I enjoy traditionally smoked salmon and lake trout, but when I have some, my favorite part is always the tail and belly meat, where in a hard smoke, the fish becomes almost jerky-like. Why not make the whole fish into jerky?
I used a Chard 10 Tray Dehydrator to make my jerky, and have come up with several great recipes. For the first batch I made, I soaked the salmon to be jerked in the same simple brine many use for smoking – salt and brown sugar. The finished product wasn’t bad, but it was very mild – too mild for my taste. Since then, I’ve made batches with more “pop” to them by adding a variety of flavors – honey mustard, spicy BBQ, teriyaki and traditional smoked flavor, using liquid smoke. My favorite is spicy BBQ, my wife’s is honey mustard.
The process is the same for each flavor. First, brine the fish filets in the traditional way using salt and brown sugar. I use a half cup of salt, half cup of sugar and a half gallon of water, put the skinless fillets into a gallon Ziplock bag and add the brine. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Rinse the fillets well, then cut the thick part of the fillets into strips about 3/8ths inch in cross section. Thin portions like rib meat or close to the tail, are cut into soda-cracker sized bites. (I also cut out the pin bone section and discard.) Put the strips and squares back into the Ziplock , then add teriyaki sauce, honey mustard salad dressing or 50/50 mix of liquid smoke and water. Spice up your favorite BBQ sauce with Tabasco and thin it a bit with water. There should be enough of the “flavorings” to cover and coat all the strips and squares. Put this back into the ‘fridge and let it marinate for a few hours or overnight.
Don’t rinse off the flavorings, just arrange the marinated fish so they are not touching on the dehydrator’s trays. Slide the trays into the dehydrator, set the heat to 150 degrees and let it do it’s work for 8 to 10 hours. Keep the fish jerky in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to a month. Freeze if you want to keep it longer. I don’t worry about carrying it with no refrigeration for a day or weekend.
Chard dehydrators are widely available at retail and online sellers or check them out or purchase at http://www.chardproducts.com.