Smoked salmon is my favorite way to eat this fish (although grilled on a cedar plank is a close second). The texture of the salmon and smokey goodness infused provide a different element that baking in the oven just can’t match. In this recipe post, I’ll go over the brining, drying, and smoking of the salmon. While the overall time will take many hours, the labor is minimal and the results are outstanding!
Brining the Salmon
To make the brine, you’ll need to start with four cups of water and one cup of soy sauce. Then add 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, two cloves minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl until no granules remain at the bottom of bowl.
As far as a container to hold the salmon and the brine, it depends on the size of the salmon fillet. A 13″ x 9″ pan should be fine, especially if you cut the salmon into sections beforehand. Also, you need to make sure you can fit container in your fridge. If not, then put in a cooler with some ice (make sure the cooler isn’t stored in a hot place). Brine for a total of eight hours.
Developing the Pellicle
After brining, remove the salmon fillet from the solution and rinse briefly. If you don’t, then the outside of the salmon will taste a wee bit salty. Pat dry with a paper towel and then place the fillet(s) on a cooling rack and in the fridge for five hours. In my experience, no excess drips from the salmon during this time. If you are concerned, place a cutting board underneath the cooling rack to be safe.
Placing the salmon in the fridge on a rack to cool for hours helps it develop a pellicle. The pellicle is a thin layer of protein on the surface of the meat. This pellicle is great for absorbing smoke. Hence, this process is vital for smoked salmon to be…well, smoked.
Smoking the salmon
Speaking of smoked, let’s get the grill going! Preheat your grill to 170 degrees over indirect heat, using pecan wood. Keep the salmon on the cooling rack and place in the grill and let smoke until internal temps reach around 140 degrees. This will take around four hours. Each hour while the salmon is on the grill, brush maple syrup on the fillets, coating the top and sides. I highly recommend using a digital thermometer, like the Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks, to monitor temps during the process.
With most meats, I recommend a resting period before digging in. But this smoked salmon can be eaten right away! The smoked salmon should have a flaky texture when you dig in with a fork. My family agrees this is their favorite way I cook salmon and your family and friends might feel the same!
- 1 salmon fillet (16 oz)
- 4 Cups warm water
- 1 Cup soy sauce
- 1/2 Cup brown sugar
- 1/4 Cup kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 Cup maple syrup
- In medium-sized bowl, combine water, soy sauce, kosher salt, brown sugar, minced garlic, onion powder, and ground ginger. Stir until dissolved.
- Place salmon in 13" x 9" container and pour in solution. Place container in refrigerator for eight hours. Rinse salmon when done brining and place on cooling rack. Place back in refrigerator for five hours.
- Preheat grill to 175 degrees over indirect heat, using pecan wood for smoke. Keep salmon on cooling rack and place in grill for four hours, brushing with maple syrup once an hour. Smoke until internal temp reaches 140 degrees.
1. If you salmon fillet is too big for container (for brining), slice into smaller serving portions.
2. Salmon is technically ready to eat at 125 degrees internal temp, but 140 would seem appropriate for the smoking process.
3. Smoked salmon should have a flaky texture when digging in with a fork.
Serving Size:4 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 2267mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 21g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.