Salmon is a delicate fish. Cook it a few minutes extra and it will lose its internal moistness and turn into a piece of rubber. This is why the vast majority of Salmon lovers prefer to dine in restaurants to enjoy a piece of their favorite fish because then they have the guarantee of having a perfectly cooked meal. While cooking Salmon to a perfect temperature appears to be both an art and science, to be honest, it is not that difficult.
The trick lies in the method of cooking, and this is where smoking the fish rather than baking it is pivotal. Smoking ensures that Salmon receives a delicate heat: one that infuses the rustic flavor of smoke and doesn’t overpower, or overcook it at the same time. When the robust smoky flavor, salt, and a little sweetness coalesce together, you are bound to enjoy an indulgent feast that keeps bringing you for more. With this easy smoked salmon recipe, you can perfect the art of cooking this delicate fish at home.
Before we delve into the recipe, here are some important takeaways.
3 Rules For The Perfect Smoked Salmon
Smoked Salmon- the name suggests that it has to be simple. This is the beauty of smoking meats: you just need to get the basics right. The three key takeaways are below.
All you need is a mix of kosher salt and brown sugar. The umami from the salt and the faint sweetness of brown sugar is a match made in heaven.
Type Of Salmon and Size
Selecting the right catch also plays an instrumental role in the final cook. Always go for wild-caught Salmon when it is in season. Otherwise, you can select the store-bought frozen wild Salmon.
Always use the whole fillet, instead of tiny portions. The whole fillet gives the fish structural integrity that prevents it from overcooking in the smoker.
Salmon is best enjoyed when it is beautifully moist, tender, and pink in the center. To achieve the perfect temperature (140 degrees Fahrenheit internal) set the smoker on 225 degrees Fahrenheit. To rid yourself from the hassle of using an outdated smoker, check out this BBQ smoker buying guide.
Easy Smoked Salmon Recipe
Start by prepping the Salmon fillet. At this stage you should do two things: remove any pin bones that might still be in the fillet, and pat the fillet dry with the help of a kitchen towel so it can firm up wonderfully while cooking.
This recipe works perfectly with a dry brine. All you need is two humble seasonings- kosher salt and brown sugar. The ratio of mixing is two parts to one, of brown sugar and salt respectively. Since this is a dry brine, and you will leave it on for an hour, it is vital that you do not over-salt the fillet. Salt not only packs a savory punch inside the fish but also helps in preserving it after it is smoked. This way you can enjoy the fish for a longer period of time, by storing it in the refrigerator.
Smoking The Salmon
While smoking is thought to be a complex method to cook, it is extremely simple and follows a couple of basic steps. After you have dry brined the fish for 1-2 hours, in the last half hour start prepping the smoker so that its temperature reaches the value of 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure that the smoker has is set at the indirect heat setting. After the smoker registers 225, place the salmon fillet skin side down in a foil, wrap it and place it in the center of the smoker. Cook until the internal temperature of the fillet is at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Final Stretch: Rest the Fillet!
When you take the fish out of the smoker, do not open the foil immediately. It is essential to rest the fish for five minutes so that the juices can spread evenly across the length and breadth of the fillet. This way, you will preserve the flavor and not let it seep out while cutting into it immediately. Voila, you have perfected the art of smoking salmon. It doesn’t get easier than this.