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Valley's Hickory Smoked Salmon

Mike Valley
People have been fishing the Mississippi River for about a thousand years. It’s a tradition that’s passed down through families for survival and recreation. Mike Valley is part of that tradition and one of the last people to still make a living as a commercial fisherman on the Upper Mississippi. And when he gets his catch...he often smokes it.


  • Salmon wild-caught or farm-raised
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Sweet Basil Leaf
  • Ranch Seasoning
  • Brown Sugar
  • Ketchup
  • Maple Syrup


  • Make sure that the salmon is thoroughly rinsed in ice cold water. Let drain for 20 minutes.
  • Mix a brine solution using regular salt and seasoned salt. Your salinity should be between 25 to 28 percent. If you do not have a salinity brine tester, mix the brine thoroughly with ice cold water and salt; then place an egg in the brine. About a pea size should be floating out of the water. If egg sinks, more salt needs to be added.
  • Place salmon in brine flesh down, skin up for 14 to 15 hours in cold storage.
  • After you have the salinity down, add some brown sugar, garlic, black pepper, sweet basil leaf, lemon pepper and ranch seasoning to a bowl. Mix rub thoroughly.
  • Take out salmon, add rub, and place on your smoker or grill skin down. Smoke between 175 and 275 degrees for around 6 to 7 hours.
  • When salmon starts to turn golden brown and wetness has disappeared, start to add your glaze. Our signature glaze is 1 gallon of ketchup, 1 quart of pancake syrup or pure maple syrup, and 2 pounds of brown sugar thoroughly mixed. This makes a wonderful glaze for all types of fish.


This recipe will hold true for any amount of salmon.