KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

I know your first thought on reading my title is ‘salmon’ and ‘candy’ are mutually exclusive , but… read on and I’ll change your mind. Most of us are familiar with the old saying, “Waste Not, Want Not” and it’s this quote that is the inspiration for this recipe. When most salmon fishermen fillet their catch, they discard the backbone and the fins trimmed off before icing the fillets down in an ice chest for their trip home. What they may not realize is they’re discarding the primary ingredients for “Salmon Candy”.  The next time you catch some salmon or steelhead save what you normally throw away and make yourself a batch of ‘Salmon Candy’!

In my case I’m lucky enough to work at a small third generation meat market where we routinely fillet quantities of salmon and steelhead. Rather than throw the back bones and fins in the trash barrel I toss them in a tote and brine them as I do the fillets. The fins I keep are the pectoral or collar fins located right behind the gills and the two ventral fins located midway down the fishes belly. The highest concentration of oils including Omega III in salmon are stored  along the belly of the fish where the fins I keep are located.

I smoke the backbones and fins for 3-4 hours. They take much less time to smoke than fillets because they’re much thinner. When done I flake the meat off the backbones for use in salads, dips, and salmon chowder. The smoked fins are finger food of the highest order. Each ventral fin off a 6-7 pound salmon or steelhead yields a morsel about the size of a baby carrot and each pectoral fin yields about double that amount.

Try this yourself and you’ll become a believer in “Salmon Candy” and also get a good dose of healthy Omega III fish oil as a bonus.

For more information on brines and smoking techniques check out our Powerless Cooking(R) Learning Module – All About Salmon Part I.