Perfectly Smoked Salmon

As a kid, Salmon was a meal my brothers and I loathed. It started with my parents buying a smelly whole fish from questionable supermarket sources. After getting it home and immediately stinking up the kitchen, the fish was hacked into large fillets with bones still attached. We’d throw it on the BBQ, wrapped in foil and smothered in butter, lemon slices, and a host of herbs. I suspect this method came from one of those 1970’s cook books that were sold at the checkstand alongside gum and nail clippers.

The final product was always overcooked to a leathery texture. I can still feel the dried out meat against my teeth – squeaking and resisting being chewed and the occasional bone to spit out. The meat was cooked halfway-to-jerky. As such, this was not my first choice of fish for many years.

Fast-forward 20 years, and I’m pleased to bring this story the happy ending it deserves. Through much trial, error, tears, and flashbacks to childhood – I’ve finally come upon a means to cook salmon that doesn’t turn it into food for the dog.

This isn’t the deeply cold smoked salmon that you’ll find in blister packs at the supermarket or sold for a premium from a reputable meat counter. This is weeknight version suitable for any old Wednesday or as part of a fancy home-cooked dinner date night at home.

It’s instead a hybrid of traditional smoked salmon and cedar plank salmon. It brings the flavor of being smoked to the party without being overpowering. The cedar imparts a small amount of flavor as well, but it’s more subtle thanks to lower heat. Rather than cold smoking the salmon as is traditional, we’re hot smoking it – allowing it to more quickly cook to an internal temperature of 125º for a perfect medium rare.

The result is a tender, moist, slightly smoky, simple salmon. It’s delicious alongside a Caesar salad and some garlic bread. It doesn’t need sauce, lemons, butter, or anything else to add any additional flavor.

Perfectly Smoked Salmon Recipe

Serves 4

2 Salmon Filet’s, deboned and cut into even sized portions
Salt + Pepper
2 Grilling Cedar Planks
1 lb Smoker Wood Chips – 45% Peach, 45% Post Oak, 10% Mesquite

  1. Soak Cedar Planks for 30 minutes
  2. Soak Smoker Chips for 30 minutes
  3. Prepare a charcoal BBQ for indirect cooking by lighting 30-45 minutes of charcoal on one side of the BBQ
  4. Thoroughly drain smoker chips and place into a thick steel perforated basket directly over the coals
  5. Place Salmon on soaked planks, leaving at least 1/2″ between fillets
  6. Generously salt + pepper the salmon fillets – do not use oil or add other seasonings
  7. Insert an oven safe remote temperature probe into the center of the thickest fillet
  8. Place salmon on planks on opposite side of the BBQ away from the coals and smoker chips. The BBQ should run between 200º and 250º F
  9. Cook until the internal temperature of the salmon reads 125º F – between 30 and 45 minutes
  10. Remove and rest for 5 minutes
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Greg

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