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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Smoked Salmon Recipe

Don't you love Alton Brown's show Good Eats on the Food Network?  He reaches out to my inner food geek with his brilliant analysis and explanations of the chemistry of food.  We recently tried his recipe for smoked salmon, and it's terrific.  It's sort of like a cross between the smoked salmon you get in the supermarket, which isn't truly smoked, but is actually cured, and warm smoked salmon that you make at home in your backyard smoker.

This should be made with salmon fillets with the skins on.  We purchased some beautiful salmon to prepare this recipe and didn't realize until we unpackaged it at home that it didn't have the skin.  I recommend using salmon with skin, or if you use skinless salmon reduce the amount of salt/sugar/peppercorn rub significantly because skinless salmon absorbs so much more of the rub.

So from Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network, here's the recipe:

Smoked Salmon

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
2 large salmon fillets or sides, pin bones removed

In a bowl, mix together salt, sugar, brown sugar, and peppercorns.  Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic.  Lay 1 side of the fish skin down onto the rub.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon.  Place second side of salmon, flesh down, onto the first side.  Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on the top piece.  Fold plastic over to cover, then close edges of foil together and crimp tightly around the fish.

Place wrapped fish onto a plank or sheet pan and top with another plank or pan.  Weight with a heavy phone book or a brick or two and refrigerate for 12 hours.  Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours.  Some juice will leak out during the process, so make sure there's a place for the runoff to gather.

Unwrap fish and rinse off the cure with cold water.  Pat salmon with paper towels, then place in a cool, dry place (not thre refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity.  A fan may be used to speed the process.

Smoke fish over smoldering hardwood chips or sawdust, keeping the temperature inside the smoker between 150 degrees F and 160 degrees F until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees.  Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Serve with the traditional salmon accoutrements:  creme fraiche or sour cream, capers, diced hardboiled egg, diced red onion, fresh dill, thin lemon slices.

If you have any left over after a day or two, make smoked salmon dip.  That recipe is next.


  1. I have been making cured salmon for years (my mother taught me how), but smoking is something I haven't tried yet. This makes me want to try it immediately!

  2. I'd love to have your recipe for cured salmon!