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How to Smoke Salmon

  • person Gwen Mistretta
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How to Smoke Salmon - Salmon Cooking Tips - hot smoked versus cold smoked salmon, gin brined, maple glazed smoked salmon

There are two main ways of smoking salmon - hot smoking and cold smoking. Fish smoking has been a part of most maritime communities throughout the ages. Recognized in ancient times as an effective and delicious way to preserve salmon and other fish, it has continued to offer a valuable product in today’s societies.

How to Smoke Salmon

Wild-caught sockeye salmon is a favorite for smoking. Because salmon is a fatty fish (containing those healthy omega-3 fatty acids), it’s a particularly good fish for smoking: it’s those fats that absorb the wonderful flavors.

The salmon is soaked for several hours in a solution of kosher salt and water, sometimes with white or brown sugar added. The fish is then rinsed and set out to dry. Drying causes the fish to develop a pellicle, or skin-like layer of stickiness that attracts the smoke particles. Maple syrup, teriyaki sauce or pepper is often brushed on for additional tang, and the fish is smoked at a temperature of 120 or above for up to eight hours. Thus, because the salmon has been exposed to heat, it  is considered “cooked.”

This process yields a rich red-brown, smoky, flaky, salty and satisfyingly chewy treat eaten just as is. But cut into small pieces, the smoked salmon tidbits make a signature difference when added to casseroles, quiches, soups, dips, pasta, egg dishes - the possibilities are endless! 

Try this recipe to make your own Gin-Brined, Maple-Glazed Hot Smoked Sockeye Salmon.

Gin-Brined, Maple-Glazed Hot Smoked Sockeye Salmon



  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

  • 1/2 cup gin or vodka


  1. Mix brine ingredients and add to ziplock bag with fillet of salmon.

  2. Brine in fridge for 2 hours.

  3. Optional: Remove from brine and leave salmon uncovered, overnight, in fridge to form pellicle.

  4. Place salmon on tray or rack in smoker and smoke for 2 hours at 200 degrees F.
  5. Brush with maple syrup 1/2 way through smoking.

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