Smoked Salmon – Sugar and Spice

I gotta tell you, I love smoking. Partly because it sets cooking into slow motion, so you can enjoy the experience for a longer period of time. Kind of like going into a black hole, but without the relativity thing. Another reason is you can more easily avoid screwing up what you’re doing.

Think about fish. If you’re going to sautee or broil a nice filet, you may only be talking about four or five minutes of cooking time. A one or two minute error in cooking time can mean the difference between a moist succulent meal and getting the ol’ “Dave, you overcooked the fish again.” On the smoker, one or two minutes is nothing. Do I cook the fish 40 minutes? 50 minutes? Who cares? As long as I take a peek at it somewhere within the right five minute inverval, I can pull it out and it will always be done to perfection.

This recipe comes courtesy of a great smoking cookbook called Sublime Smoke. Well, I don’t know how courteous those folks were – I didn’t ask. So I won’t divulge too much here – for quantities, go buy the book.

brown sugar
coarse sea salt
dill seed
whole coriander, bruised

Mix up all of these ingredients in a bowl, add the salmon, cover, and marinade in the refrigerator for at least two or three hours. Smoke it for 45 minutes to an hour. Smoking times will vary depending on your heat. My smoker is a vertical model that runs about 250 degrees or more, so it may be faster than some of the nice indirect heat models with the firebox on the side.

For flavor, I use hickory or pecan. Mesquite will give this too bitter a taste.

The picture depicts two small filets – I had a remnant of wild salmon (the dark red) in the freezer, and I went out and bought a little Scotland farm-raised for about half the price of the wild. The fresh farm-raised was much better than the frozen wild stuff (duh).

Another note about Sublime Smoke: I’ve done a number of recipes from this book, including chili-smoked monkfish (yowza!) and tandoori chicken. It has inspired me to smoke rather than grill just about all of my meats – including hamburgers, steaks, and fajitas.

That’s about it, compadre. Enjoy!

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