Cold-Smoked SalmonJordan Hofker Prepare delicious salmon without heat.
My wife calls this my latest fixation, and she's not wrong.
- 1 salmon filet (I buy Costco's farm-raised Atlantic salmon)
- Farm-raised to help avoid parasites, but generally if the fish has been deep-frozen after it was caught, you'll be fine here
- Approximately 1oz kosher salt per pound
- Approximately 0.5oz sugar per pound
- Unwrap the salmon and dry it with clean paper towels
- Mix salt and sugar together
- Sprinkle a thin layer the shape of your filet in the bottom of a pan, baking sheet, or foil boat
- Put the salmon on top of the salt and sugar mixture in the pan
- Sprinkle the remaining salt and sugar on top of the salmon, ensuring good coverage
- Wrap the pan and put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but I usually do around 24 hours (This depends on how salty you would like it to be. Generally, longer = saltier)
- After the curing time, remove from the fridge and from the pan
- Rinse the salmon and then dry it thoroughly with clean paper towels
- Place the salmon on a wire rack
- Place it back in the fridge, uncovered for an hour or more
Cured salmon on a wire baking rack, dried and ready to smoke
- In your smoker (I use my Traeger, but really you can use any clean and vented box), collect some wood chips or pellets and put them in a smoke tube or small foil pan
- Light one end of the chips on fire and let it burn for a little bit, then blow out the fire. It should still smolder and smoke after this.
- Place the smoke tube or pan on the opposite side of your smoking container from the vent. (For me this is the left side of the grate)
- Place your salmon and wire rack next to the smoke source
- Let it sit in the cool smokey environment for 4-6 hours depending on how smokey you like it
Salmon on a wire rack in a (dirty) Traeger smoker with a smoke tube smoking to the left
- Remove from the smoker and wrap in plastic wrap
- You can eat it right away, but with a day in the fridge it'll taste even better
- Cut the filet into smaller chunks and wrap them individually. I like to keep one thawed and freeze the rest, taking a frozen one out when I finish the thawed one.
- Eat however you might like. Plain, on a bagel, in a bowl with rice, in sushi, or any other way you feel.
That's a lot of steps! But it really doesn't take much active time. I've also done this process with steelhead trout and I would imagine other fish would work great too.
I started doing this after I realized that buying a package cold-smoked salmon every week was pretty expensive for not a lot of fish. I'm documenting it here because I keep talking about it to folks and having a simple link to share is easier than describing the process every time.