Salmon are returning home to rivers across the northwest right now, so we figured it’s a good time to share another salmon recipe. Whether you’re bringing fish home from a trip to a healthy, well-managed fishery, or you’re bringing fish home from the supermarket (wild salmon only, please) we think you should give this one a try – it’s one of our favorites.
Fishing and friends go hand in hand. This recipe is doubly favorite because it was told to your editor by our dear friend Dec Hogan. Thanks, Dec!
Grilled Smoked Salmon
- Fresh fillet of sockeye or silver salmon, skin on
- Table salt
- Wood chips – fruit wood or cottonwood
As you can see, this recipe is much more about the preparation than the ingredients!
Two to four hours before mealtime, cover the meat side of the fillet with salt. We mean cover it – there shouldn’t be piled-up dry salt anywhere, but every little spot of flesh should have salt on it. The first time you do this, you’re going to think to yourself, “I’m ruining this fish by putting too much salt on it.” Just enough to cover it in salt, without having any dry salt piled up. Use normal table salt, not kosher or rock salt – that would make it much too salty.
Stick the fillet in the fridge. The layer of salt will create a mini-brine – it’ll draw the moisture out of the outer layer of flesh, where it’ll pool up. More on this later.
Fire up your grill to your standard grilling temperature. We like 400 degrees, but every Grillmaster is different.
Put a batch of wood chips on the grill and get them hot enough that they’re bellowing out smoke. You can wrap them in foil and poke holes in it, or you can use a metal smoker box (our preferred option, pictured above), or you can use the super fancy smoker box that’s attached to your grill that we can’t afford. Dec uses cottonwood chips. We usually use some kind of fruitwood blend, just because it’s easier to find.
Put the fillet skin-side down on your grill, and grill it just like you would normally grill salmon. Keep the lid closed. Don’t flip it. We typically go 10 – 12 minutes at 400 degrees for a normal sockeye or silver fillet.
That’s it! By pulling the moisture out of the outer layer of flesh with the salt, the moisture gets sealed into the fillet – the flesh won’t pull apart and leak juices like it normally does when you cook salmon. The flavor winds up being somewhere in between fresh and smoked salmon, and the flesh is about as moist and tender as any salmon you’ll ever eat.
Enjoy, and thank Dec.