Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


Smoked Salmon

Raichlen on Indoor Grilling (Workman, 2004)

  • Active Prep: 4 hours for curing

Sunday morning Smoked Salmon, done in a stovetop smoker, served with grilled toast points, capers, diced red onions, and sour cream.


  • Yield: 4 to 6
  • Method: Smoking
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  • 1-1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet (preferably a center cut piece)
  • 1 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • Cooking oil spray (optional)

For Serving

  • Toast points or bagels
  • Cream cheese
  • Capers
  • Diced red onions
  • Chives
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Chopped hard-boiled egg
  • 1 tablespoons hardwood sawdust
  • Stovetop smoker

Step 1: Run your fingers over the salmon fillet, feeling for bones, Using needle-nose pliers or tweezers, pull out any bones you find. Rinse the salmon under cold running water, then blot dry with paper towels. Place the fish in a nonreactive baking dish just large enough to hold it and pour the vodka over it. Turn the fillet over. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, turning the fillet twice.

Step 2: Place the brown sugar, salt, pepper, and coriander in a mixing bowl and mix well, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar with your fingers. Drain the fillet and blot it dry with paper towels. Dry the baking dish. Arrange a third of the sugar mixture in the bottom of the baking dish in the shape of the salmon fillet. Place the fillet on top and cover it with the remaining brown sugar mixture. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let the fish cure in the refrigerator for 4 hours. When it’s properly cured, there will be a pool of liquid at the bottom of the baking dish—the liquid the salt has drawn out of the salmon.

Step 3: Rinse the fish under cold water to wash off all the brown sugar mixture, then blot dry with paper towels.

Step 4: Set up the stove-top smoker. Place the sawdust in the center of the bottom of the smoker. Line the drip pan with aluminum foil and place it in the smoker. Lightly coat the wire rack with cooking oil spray. Place the wire rack in the smoker. Place the salmon fillet on the rack with what was the skin side facing down.

Step 5: Cover the smoker and place it over high heat for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium. Smoke the salmon until cooked through, about 18 minutes. To test for doneness, press the fish with your finger; it should break into clean flakes.

Step 6: Transfer the salmon to a wire rack placed over a plate and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve (salmon prepared this way tastes best served chilled). Serve it with bagels and the suggested accompaniments. Refrigerate the salmon for up to 4 days.