OK... This is a special occasion dish for several reasons. Not the least is the time. Normally fish will grill quick. This is slow smoked for an hour so you do need to plan ahead.
BUT the real planning ahead time is the "Cure" that takes up to 36 hours. There is not a whole lot of work during the curing process, mixing the rub, applying the rub, wrapping the fish and turning after 12 hours. Then there is the IMPORTANT wash of the rub off the fish and an air dry time. But you do need to plan this at least a couple days ahead of time.
Salt curing the salmon does a couple of things. It removes bacteria by leeching out the water. so much so that if you prefer, you could serve this "raw" after the step of washing the cure from the fish and letting it air dry. This is how most of the "raw" smoked salmon is made (with a little cold smoking to add flavor... but that's a different recipe). Salted cures were the best way to preserve fish for several centuries before refrigeration became standard. A lost art but easily done.
The fish comes out of the smoker surprisingly moist and tender. there is a crust on the outside but the inside is as moist tender and filled with salty sweet flavors as you could imagine.
This is simply WONDERFUL
You really should also serve this with the garnish of the "Dressed Up Mixed Greens Salad with Hazelnuts" (yesterday's post). It has a dressing of a Jam Jar honey mustard vinaigrette that helps flavor the fish. Plus the sweet apples and tart cherries add a melange of flavors while the chopped Hazelnuts adds extra texture... All in All, an amazing dish.
BTW, I did a bit of monkeying around with the recipe (mostly cutting back on the salt after reading the reviews), but mostly this is inspired by a dish I saw Bobby Flay make on his BBQ Addiction show.
OK, before I get to the recipe, here's a quick little lesson on smoking in a Weber Kettle Grill (no need to buy new equipment, any charcoal and most gas grills can be used as smokers)....
So... Here's the steps for indirect heat on a Weber Kettle Grill...
The bag also reads 100% Hardwood Charcoal.
OK... there is a math factor here... 20 Briquettes. That's all you need now, count out 20 briquettes and put them in a chimney...
If not, relight another few pages of newspaper and repeat the 10 minute wait.
If so, wait for another 5 minutes and then pour...
Only pour around one edge... Indirect remember. You do not want the coals spread to reach under the meat.
Pop on the grate and you are now ready to cook...
Notice that I have the handles of the grate, one side directly over the stack of lit coals. This is IMPORTANT so that you can add briquettes without removing the grate.
And the photo above shows the MOST IMPORTANT TIP for insuring Restaurant Quality Low and Slow smoked ribs...
TEMPERATURE. 200 is your goal. Never higher than 225, never lower than 175. The air vents at the op and at the bottom of the kettle are adjustable, open wide and more oxygen flows into the kettle and the fire burns hotter. Close them and no oxygen gets in and the fire dies. You need that happy medium. Check your temperature early and often. It will take you another 10 minutes or more to get the vents right. Do this before you add the meat.
Proper temperature control is VITAL. So Vital I showed the photo twice!
OK... Lots of time, only a few steps and an amazing meal... This was served as my fish course for my BIG Labor Day BBQ party. More than 10 dishes were served... This was universally LOVED!
Hot Smoked Salmon
with Dressed Up Mixed Greens Salad and Hazelnuts
- 1 large piece (@3-1/2 Pounds) center-cut salmon, skin on, pin bones removed, halved
- 1/4 Cup Sea Salt
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Cracked Peppercorns
- Drizzle of Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Dressed Up Mixed Greens Salad with Hazelnuts for Garnish
- Make a Cure Rub by mixing the Salt, Sugars and cracked Peppercorns (hint, put whole peppercorns in a large ziplock bag, lay flat and whack away with a hammer).
- Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish on the work surface and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap.
- Sprinkle a couple of TBS of the rub on the plastic wrap to cure from bottom up.
- Lay the first half of the salmon, skin-side down, on the plastic wrap.
- Sprinkle 1/3rd of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon.
- Rub 1/3rd of the rub onto the flesh side of the second piece of salmon... Rub in good so it sticks as you place this piece, skin side to skin side on top of the first piece.
- Sprinkle remaining rub onto the skin side of the second piece (now the top of the two piece stack)
- Fold the plastic over to cover, and then close the foil edges together and crimp tightly around the fish.
- Place the wrapped fish onto a sheet pan and top with another sheet pan. Weigh down with a brick or 2 and refrigerate for 12 hours. Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours. Some juice will leak out during the process so make sure there's a place for the juices to gather.
- Unwrap the fish and rinse off the cure mixture with cold water. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity. A fan may be used to speed the process.
- Prepare a kettle grill for indirect smoking, small amount of briquettes, shoved to one side, arrange the vents so the internal temperature of the kettle is only 175 - 200 degree (no More). I also added a couple of chunks of Pecan wood for smoke flavor.
- Smoke the salmon (Drizzle a bit of Olive Oil over the fish just before closing the lid) over the indirect heat (opposite side of the grate from the coals), Smoke for about 1 hour, until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees.
- Place the salmon on a platter.
- Drizzle with some of the reserved Apple Cider Vinaigrette you made for the Dressed Up Mixed Greens Salad, and top with the Salad and Hazelnuts
- Serve Warm from the smoker (works as a cold salad as well) and ENJOY!!!
Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop... Over 100 in one grilling season (I love to grill!). But not just leat... Drinks, Condiments (LOTS of different BBQ sauces), Drinks, Desserts... even specialty items like GRILLED Pizza, and fun shaped Watermelons. Easy and these ideas will make you the MASTER of your Backyard Domain!
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