Hello, salmon lovers! Today, I’m bringing you the best smoked salmon recipe that will leave you craving for more. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also packed with flavor, making it perfect for any occasion. So, if you’re ready to dive into the world of smoked salmon, you’re in the right place!
First, let’s talk about the type of salmon to use. Wild salmon, such as sockeye, king, coho, and copper river salmon, are great choices due to their higher fat content, which results in a richer flavor. However, if you’re unable to find wild salmon, fear not! Atlantic salmon from your local grocery store will do just fine.
Before we get started, make sure you have the following ingredients and tools on hand:
- 1 (2-3 lb) salmon fillet
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- Cream cheese, crème fraîche, or your favorite creamy cheese, for serving
- Pine nuts, for garnish (optional)
- Traeger smoker, Big Green Egg, or any pellet/electric smoker
- Wire rack and baking sheet
- Meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer
- Paper towel
- Plastic wrap
- Large bowl
Pro Tip: For the best results, use alder chips or wood pellets specifically designed for smoking fish.
Now, let’s get started with our easy smoked salmon recipe!
- In a large bowl, mix the dark brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and lemon zest. This dry brine will help lock in the flavor of the salmon.
- Lay the salmon fillet skin-side down on a paper towel. Apply the dry brine mixture evenly over the surface of the fish, then cover it with plastic wrap. Place the salmon in the fridge for 8-12 hours to allow the dry brining process to work its magic.
- Remove the salmon from the fridge and rinse it under cold water to remove the excess brine. Pat it dry with a paper towel and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.
- Preheat your smoker to its lowest setting (usually around 180°F). While it’s heating up, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, white wine, and lemon juice in a small bowl. This wet brine will add an extra layer of flavor to your salmon.
- Place the salmon fillet skin-side down on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Brush the wet brine mixture onto the fish, then add the thinly sliced red onion on top.
- Transfer the salmon to your preheated smoker, and insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the fish. Close the lid and let it smoke for about 2-3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 140°F.
- Remove the salmon from the smoker and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Slice it into thin pieces and enjoy with a dollop of cream cheese, crème fraîche, or your favorite creamy cheese. Garnish with pine nuts, if desired.
And there you have it – an easy smoked salmon recipe that’s perfect for any occasion! Whether you’re hosting a party or simply enjoying it as a snack, this delicious treat is sure to impress. Pair it with some crackers, bagels, or crusty bread, and don’t forget to drizzle some hot sauce on top if you’re craving a little kick.
Remember, the type of smoker you use, the type of salmon, and the wood chips or pellets you choose can all impact the final flavor of your smoked salmon. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations to find the perfect balance that suits your taste buds.
Another important aspect of creating the perfect smoked salmon is the smoking process itself. With so many different options available, such as Traeger grills, pellet grills, or even traditional hot coals, it’s essential to find the method that works best for you.
The key is to maintain a consistent low temperature throughout the cooking process, which will result in a tender, flavorful salmon with a delightful smoke flavor.
If you’re using a pellet grill or a Traeger, managing the temperature is a breeze. However, if you’re using hot coals or another type of grill, you’ll need to pay close attention to the heat.
For hot smoking, aim for a temperature of 180-200°F, while for cold smoking, you’ll want to maintain a lower temperature, around 70-90°F. It’s all about finding the right balance between heat and smoke to achieve the best results.
For this easy recipe, we’ll focus on hot smoking. Once you’ve preheated your grill or smoker, place the salmon skin-side down on the grates, away from the hot coals or heat source. This indirect heat method will ensure that the salmon cooks evenly without burning.
Sockeye, king, and coho salmon are all excellent choices for this hot smoked salmon recipe. These varieties are native to the Pacific Northwest and are known for their rich flavors, making them ideal for smoking. Chum salmon, while less common, can also be used if you’re looking for a milder taste.
During the smoking process, be sure to monitor the actual temperature of your smoker, as fluctuations in heat can affect the final result. An instant-read thermometer is an invaluable tool for this purpose.
Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a steady temperature, and resist the temptation to open the smoker frequently, as doing so can release heat and smoke.
As the salmon smokes, you’ll notice that the color of the raw salmon will transform into a beautiful, golden hue. This is a sign that the smoking process is working its magic! Remember to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the fish, as this is crucial for food safety and achieving the perfect texture.
This simple recipe can be customized in numerous ways to suit your preferences. For those who love a little bit of heat, feel free to add your favorite hot sauces to the salmon brine, or serve them on the side. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy smoked salmon – it’s all about discovering your favorite way to savor this delicious treat.
Now that you’re armed with all the information you need, it’s time to start smoking! With this easy recipe and a little bit of practice, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a smoked salmon master.
If you’re new to smoking fish, you might want to start with a milder wood like alder chips for a more subtle smoky flavor. As you gain experience, you can try other wood chips or even create your own custom blends for a truly unique taste.
One of my favorite things about this easy smoked salmon recipe is its versatility. Feel free to customize the brine ingredients to your liking – perhaps add some white pepper or a pinch of smoked paprika for an extra kick. You can also play around with different garnishes or accompaniments, like capers, fresh dill, or even some pickled vegetables.
For those who prefer cold-smoked salmon, you can achieve similar results by using a cold smoking setup, with temperatures between 70-90°F, and extending the smoking time to 8-12 hours. Just make sure to monitor the internal temperature closely to ensure food safety.
No matter your experience level, this easy smoked salmon recipe is a fantastic way to enjoy the rich, smoky flavor of perfectly cooked salmon. It’s perfect for sharing with friends and family, or as a delicious treat for yourself.
I hope you enjoy this easy smoked salmon recipe as much as I do, and I’d love to hear about your smoking adventures in the comments below. Don’t forget to save the recipe card, so you’ll always have this delightful treat at your fingertips.
Happy smoking, and bon appétit!