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Thread: Traditional Scandinavian Smoked Salmon

  1. #1
    Grouper cbope's Avatar
    Join Date
    Helsinki, Finland

    Traditional Scandinavian Smoked Salmon

    This is a good one I've learned to do well, living Finland for the past 10 years. It's simple and doesn't need much prep time.

    First, you will need something to smoke the salmon in, which is basically a large pan with a good fitting lid that is big enough to hold a large salmon fillet. There should be a wire rack to keep the salmon elevated off the bottom of the pan while smoking, ideally the salmon needs to be in the middle height-wise with the lid on. If you can't find a smoking pan, it can be improvised, I made one a couple summers ago using 2 large ceramic-coated steel bowls and a circular grill rack from a mini Weber type grill. On to the cooking...

    You will need:

    - 1 large salmon fillet, 1-2 pounds is good for 2-4 people (depending on what else you serve with it)
    - sea salt (flakes, Maldon brand is BEST)
    - 1/2 a lemon
    - wood chips for smoking fish (outdoor stores should have this depending on where you live)
    - 3-4 sugar cubes
    - outdoor gas grill (you can't smoke inside)

    First, about selecting the salmon. I prefer Norwegian wild salmon, it is by far the best. You want a slightly fatter salmon for smoking because the fat will keep the fish from drying out too much as it cooks. If you start with a very lean fish you will end up with crispy smoked salmon, which is not good. If you don't know what a fatty salmon looks like at the fish counter, look for a salmon with a deep pink color and lots of white striations. The white striations are the fat layers in the meat. The more white the better. You need fresh salmon, this won't work with frozen, sorry. Stay away from farmed salmon if possible. Although it is fattier than other types, it does not taste nearly as good and it's unhealthy compared to wild. Wild salmon has much better concentration of the healthy omega-3 fish oils that are really good for you.

    1. Place the salmon skin side down directly on the wire rack, or you can make an aluminum foil tray to help with cleanup later. It really makes no difference. But it's VERY important to leave the skin on. The skin protects the fish from the heat and keeps it from drying out. After cooking, the meat will lift right off the skin so do not worry about it.

    2. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the whole fish, generously.

    3. COVER the top of the salmon with sea salt. It needs to be very well covered, about 1/16th of an inch thick. Don't worry, most of this salt will be removed before you eat it. Leave the salt on the salmon for about 30 minutes. This can be done at room temperature or you can put it in the fridge. I recommend not putting it in the fridge unless you want all the food in the fridge to smell like raw salmon. Don't ask me how I know this.

    4. After 30 minutes, remove most of the salt from the fish. I just use a clean hand, and rub it off in one direction, right into the sink. Leave a small amount of sea salt on the fish, don't remove all of it.

    5. In your smoking pan, line the bottom well with aluminum foil (really helps cleanup) and then put a thin layer of wood chips in the bottom. I usually make it about 3/16-1/4 inch thick. You want most of the bottom covered in chips. Put the sugar cubes on top of the chips. The sugar will add a nice caramel color to the fish and flavor. Put the lid on and fire up the grill. If you have a side burner that heats directly, that is best. Otherwise it should work on a normal grill, but try to have the pan as close to the flames as possible. If the flames lick the bottom of the pan, perfect. Set it on low, you don't want it to burn the chips too fast. If you burn the chips too fast you will have a bitter tasting smoked salmon. Start heating the pan and wait for the first smoke to appear, usually this only takes a minute or two. Once you start to see a bit more smoke, put the rack with salmon on top inside the pan and cover it with the lid. The lid should fit fairly well. You do not want holes to let the smoke out, it will escape from under the lid anyway. Do not remove the lid during the smoking.

    6. Continue to smoke the fish for at least 20-25 minutes if the fillet is not too thick (less than 3/4 inch) up to 30-35 minutes for a thicker fillet (more than an inch). To check if it's done, remove the lid and use a fork to dig into the thickest part of the fillet. The meat inside should be light pink, not red, and it should fall apart easily. If not, smoke another 5-10 minutes.

    When it's done, just remove the pan from the heat and serve. I serve it right from the rack.

    Be warned, cleanup can be a pain, especially if you don't have a "dedicated" smoking pan. We use a dedicated smoking pan and it gets washed about once a year. The rack gets washed every use though. I highly recommend storing the smoking pan outdoors if possible, especially if you have a dedicated pan that will not be thoroughly cleaned after each use. Don't bring a dirty smoking pan indoors unless you want your house to smell... well, smoky. Again, don't ask.

    Enjoy, and if you have any questions, just ask!
    "It is better to be hurt on the surface, than dead on the bottom."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Tucson, AZ
    Oh sweet memories of childhood... mmmmm Now I need to make some.. and some lefse while I'm at it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    United States
    I love scandinavian smoked salmon. thanks for sharing

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