When smoking proteins, the first thing that you want to do is either cure the protein with a dry rub, or to soak it in a brine. These techniques normally apply to seafood, pork and chicken but are certainly not limited to these. Pork is one of my favorite proteins to brine because it acts as a blank palate for any flavor. Scallops and salmon are my favorite seafood items to cure and brine.
Once you have cured or soaked your protein for the allotted amount of time, you want to rinse it then let it air dry to form a pellicle. This pellicle is a micro thin layer that forms on the surface of the proteins that becomes tacky to the touch. The pellicle is responsible for sealing in moisture during a prolonged smoking process and helps the smoke adhere to the outside of the protein. The pellicle is slightly visible to the trained eye, you will notice a slightly darker color and it will not have much sheen to it.
When it comes to smoking there are a few decisions that need to be made, whether you will hot smoke or cold smoke. A hot smoke is great for salmon and tastes incredible right out of the smoker. When cold smoking, you want to make sure that the air is cold so the protein does not cook. When I cold smoke proteins it will usually be for 2 hours at the most.