Alder Wood Smoked Salmon by Chris P.

Alder Wood Smoked Salmon

"The recipe starts with one large salmon fillet. If either side still has the skin, remove it now. Rinse the salmon and pat dry with a paper towel. Now, it’s time to make and apply the cure.

Dry Cure Ingredients:

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon of fresh black pepper

Mix the cure ingredients in a bowl and then spread the cure on the bottom of a rectangular glass cooking dish. Lay the salmon on top of the cure and then spread the dry cure on top and along the sides of the salmon. Leave nothing uncovered.  

Refrigerate, covered in plastic wrap, for 4 to 8 hours or overnight. You will see liquid accumulating in the dish as it is drawn out of the salmon by the cure. I sometimes dump some of the liquid after 6 hours or so but I don’t think you have to. Once you’ve finished the curing process, rinse the salmon of the seasoning and pat it dry with a paper towel.

Cured Salmon

Now, it’s time to create the pellicle, which is a dry layer on the fish that will help hold the smoke flavor and color. Place the salmon on a rack at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours uncovered. I use a cooling rack. My wife has me put wax paper on the rack but that’s not necessary.

Once you’ve finished allowing the salmon to create the pellicle then I’d strongly recommend brushing it with maple syrup for a little sweet flavor. I use a flavorful bourbon maple syrup I get from Costco. I’ve also read that using an apricot jam, instead of maple syrup, creates a nice sweet flavor as well. It’s time to smoke our salmon!  

I use 1 ounce of Alder wood in the smoking box of my SmokinTex 1400. I probe the thickest part of the salmon (for temp reading) and set the smoker to 225F for 90 minutes. You want an internal temperature of 150F. Sit back and wait for the magic to happen. I think the salmon is best served warm but it’s also great at room temperature.

To go one step further, I would like to share the recipe for an Aioli that really compliments the flavors of the smoked salmon. This is not my recipe but it’s a good one.

Aioli Ingredients:

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

2 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon

2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

If you’re wondering if you can substitute dry parsley, tarragon and chives, well, you can but it’s just not as good. Take the time to use fresh herbs. Combine all ingredients together well in a bowl and then transfer to a ramekin or small serving bowl. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Just a little dollop of the aioli along with a bite of salmon will go a long way. I also recommend having small toast bites along with this.

I hope you enjoy it!"

-Chris P.


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