I recently confirmed that one can make Smoked Salmon without a smoker. The is a simple no fuss method of making smooth and luscious Smoked Salmon at home, and there is no need for brining either. It is essentially a variation of cured salmon fortified with a combination of dark muscovado sugar and a dash of liquid smoke. With its rich smoky flavour and deep colour, nobody will be able to tell that your smoked salmon isn’t smoked at all.
- Salmon Fillet (300g)
- Coarse Sea Salt (1/2 cup)
- Dark Muscovado Sugar (1/4 cup)
- Dill Weed
- Liquid Smoke
- Your salmon should be of the Supreme cut (thick boneless fillet) as opposed to a Darne (cross section with back bone and belly flaps). Don’t use fronzen salmon. Leave the skin on. Rinse the fillet and then pad it dry with kitchen towels. Next, marinate in a mixture of 1T whiskey, 1t liquid smoke and 1t chopped dill weed.
- While the fish is marinating, combine half a cup of coarse salt and a quarter cup of dark muscovado sugar. The muscavado is clumpy, so make sure they are thoroughly mixed.
- Open a square sheet of cling film on a cutting board and spoon half the salt/sugar mixture on to the middle in the shape of your fish, only slightly bigger.
- If your fillet is thin at one end cut it off and stack it on top to get as close to a rectangular block as possible. Place the salmon on the bed of salt and sugar skin side down and spoon any remaining marinade over the salmon. Top off with the remainder of the curing mixture.
- Wrap up the salmon and place in a glass, ceramic or plastic container (concentrated salt corrodes metal).
- Put the container in the fridge. Flip once after an hour and again every 6 to 12 hours. Some brine will seep out, which is desirable. Drain away any liquid (without unwrapping) each time you are flipping the wrapped package.
- For a relatively thinner slice of salmon (like the one I’ve used) allow the salmon to cure for 24 hours. If you are using a thicker slab of fish (which is preferable) leave the salmon to cure for 36 hours.
- After the curing is complete, unwrap and rinse the salmon thoroughly. The surface will appear rough and dry, don’t worry, after slicing this will not be noticeable. Pad the salmon dry with kitchen towels and leave uncovered in the fridge for an hour or so to dry before you slice it.
- To slice, place the block of ‘smoked’ salmon with skin down on the cutting board. Make a thin slice not quite to the skin and then a second slice all the way down and then carve the knife outward. If done right you should end up with something with a nice V shaped pattern. If there is a bulge at the joint slice lightly to flatten the slice. Repeat until all the salmon is butterflied so. Salt is a preservative but you should still keep the sliced salmon in the fridge wrapped in or covered with cling film until you intend to serve them.
- Smoked Salmon is best served with capers, slices of red onion and creamed horseradish.
- What is the difference between Smoked Salmon and Gravlax? Gravlax hails from Scandinavia and besides salt and sugar it is also cured with crushed pepper, juniper berries and a lot more dill and alcohol than this recipe uses. The salmon will usually be put under a weight to squeeze the water out, to compensate for the reduced salt in the curing mixture. Gravlax is normally marinated a further day in mixture of oil and dill whereas smoked salmon is smoked instead.
- What is the difference between Smoked Salmon and Lox? Lox is a Jewish-American delicacy that brines salmon for an extended period of time which gives it a very intense and saltier taste, hence the need for cream cheese and bagels to go with it. Lox is also not smoked. Its long brining period means Lox can only be made from the fat belly parts of the salmon. Most of the Lox served in American delis is actually Smoked Salmon.
- Remember to wash your hands before touching the fish after it is cured to extend the longevity of your smoked salmon. You might also wish to rinse the curing mixture off with cold boiled water instead of running tap water for the same reason.
- Muscovado sugar has an intense smoky molasses taste which complements the effect of the liquid smoke well. For best results don’t use any other type of sugar even if it is brown. Muscovado is moist and clumpy and comes in light and dark varieties. Look for it in the baking section of supermarkets and make sure you get the dark variety.
- The dill is to help more marinade cling to the fish since it is quite watery, so if you don’t like the taste of dill use another herb instead of just leaving it out altogether.