Lean meats and fish are typically the best choices for jerky, because fatty foods have the tendency to develop rancid, off flavors. But even though it’s among the fattier types of fish available, salmon makes for delicious jerky, according to barbecue expert Steven Raichlen. Once you have the basic process for making jerky down, explore other seasonings and glazes. Store the jerky in an airtight container in a cool spot for approximately three months.
Slice boneless salmon fillets crosswise into slices that are approximately 1/4-inch thick. Partially freeze the fish to make it easier to slice. Whether you leave the skin on or remove it is a matter of personal preference. Choose from three basic methods for preparing the fish:
- Brining, a method often used for making smoked or cured salmon. Combine fine sea salt with spring water in a nonreactive container. In general, use 1 cup of salt for every 1 gallon of water. Submerge the salmon in the mixture and let it soak in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Remove the salmon from the brine, rinse it and let it dry on a rack at room temperature for three hours before making the jerky. Placing a fan nearby can dry the fish even faster.
- Marinating, a method that uses flavorful ingredients to infuse the fish with flavor. To make a slightly sweet, slightly zesty jerky, combine 1/4 cup of soy sauce with 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper for each pound of salmon. (Ref 3)Add the marinade and the salmon to a bowl or resealable bag and let it soak for approximately two to three hours in the refrigerator.
- Dry seasoning, a similar method to dry curing for smoked salmon. For each pound of fish, use 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of smoked salt, 1 tablespoon of black pepper and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Rub the dry mixture on both sides of the salmon slices, place them in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours or as long as several days. Rinse the slices thoroughly and let them dry for one to three hours at room temperature before drying the salmon into jerky.
According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension, deep freezing the fish at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for one to two months before making jerky kills most harmful bacteria and parasites.
To achieve the perfectly crisped texture of jerky, it’s essential to remove as much moisture as possible using a low temperature. You can achieve this in a smoker, dehydrator or the oven.