I was first introduced to hot smoked fish when I was a child. My family stayed with relatives in the Stockholm archipelago, we would lay fishing nets out in the early evening and hope for a bountiful catch, the excitement when we woke the next morning. The smoked fish I ate in the years after those days seemed inferior to the freshly smoked fish we shared then. Whilst on a recent trip to the archipelago I was re-introduced to home smoking and haven’t looked back.
Hot smoking fish sounds intimidating but it’s something anyone can do. I have used my kettle barbecue to hot smoke mine but all you need is a deep baking tray, a wire rack, wood chips and foil. The process takes a couple of days, the only tricky part is the ability to control the heat if you’re using a kettle barbecue. My recommendation would be indirect heat, scatter wood chips on the hot coals just before placing the salmon in the kettle. Cook at 90C for approximately 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.
So simple and so delicious.
Hot Smoked Salmon
Yield 8 Main Course
If you have a kettle barbecue that can achieve a very low temperature of 90C you can hot smoke the salmon with soaked applewood chips thrown on the coals just before you place the fish on the griddle. Depending on the thickness of the fillets they will take anything from 20-35 minutes.
1 Side of Salmon approx 1kg
100g Dark Muscovado Sugar
100g Course Sea Salt
Freshly Milled Pepper
Apple wood Smoking Chips, a generous handful
The night before.
- The night before you'd like to cook your salmon, mix together the sugar, salt and pepper and cover the salmon with a generous coating. Place the salmon on a tray and wrap the plate and salmon in cling film. Refrigerate overnight, preferably for 8-10 hours.
First thing in the morning remove the salmon from the fridge, pour away the liquid on the plate and thoroughly rinse the salmon and pat dry with kitchen paper .The salmon should feel stiff, and have a slightly darker, richer colour.
Place the salmon on a wire rack on a tray and return to the fridge for an hour or two to draw out any excess moisture, you want the surface of the fish to develop a shiny skin called a pellicle. The pellicle, which is a thin, lacquer-like layer on top of the fish, seals it and offers a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to.
Line a deep roasting tray with two big pieces of foil that hang over the edges by 10 cm to 15 cm. Add a thin layer of woods chips. Set a rack over the chips.
Cut the salmon fillet into portions and place on the rack. Bring the sides of the foil up over the salmon, pinching the ends closed to form a tent in which the smoke can circulate around the salmon. The tighter the foil is sealed, the less likely that smoke will escape out into your kitchen. If you have a baking sheet that can sit on top all the better.
It’s a good idea to smoke one fillet alone first, to get a sense of what your ideal smoking time is both for the flavour of fish and the doneness. After you experiment with the first fillet, you can then smoke the remaining fillets. Heat the tray on the gas hob to a high heat until the chips start to smoke. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, you want to keep the smoke in the pan with the salmon. Cook, undisturbed for 20 -25 minutes. Another tip, open a few windows as some smoke does escape.
Turn off the heat and let the salmon cool in the pan. When its cool enough to handle easily, unwrap the salmon. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Courses Lunch Dinner
I personally love serving the salmon warm with a lightly pickled fennel and cucumber salad fresh grated horseradish and cream cheese. Slice a fennel bulb as finely as you possibly can or if you have a mandolin even better. Peel half a cucumber and de-seed, slice thinly. Place in a bowl with 50mls of spirit or white wine vinegar., 25mls of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Mix well and leave for 30 minutes. Add finely chopped dill. Combine the grated horseradish root with a little cream cheese and serve with the salmon. The acidity in the salad counters the richness of the salmon perfectly.