How to Make Smoked Salmon

For hundreds of years, humans have preserved fish by using some form of smoking. With the advancement of technology, cooks have found that smoked salmon does not have to be complicated. There is a simple way to make flavorful smoked salmon at home without the mess of brine that eliminates hours of preparation. Besides the fish itself, the most important part in creating a savory smoked salmon is the grilling plank. Grilling planks allow cooks to transform an average propane grill into a smoking unit. The most common type of wood for grilling planks is cedar, although some of other varieties of wood lend different attributes to the finished product. Find smoking planks at most major grocery stores or from distributors online. With that said there must be something to put on the plank.

Things You'll Need

  • Cedar Grilling Plank
  • Red Wine (Optional)
  • Propane Grill
  • Large Salmon Fillet
  • Seafood Seasoning
  • 2 Tongs
  • Spatula

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How to Make Smoked Salmon

Soak the grilling plank for at least one hour. Most cooks use water, but using red wine will add a touch of elegance. Soaking will encourage the wood to smoke, not burn. Soaking longer than an hour will not oversaturate the wood.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Prepare the salmon. Trim thin sections of salmon near tail and side and discard or retain for future use. Lightly season—most of the flavor should come from the wood smoke—with a standard seafood seasoning like Old Bay or Phillips.

Remove grilling plank from water or wine. Place the salmon skin-side down on the plank.

Using tongs, place plank in the center of the grill. Close grill lid and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until meat is tender and thoroughly cooked. Do not flip salmon while cooking, if necessary, rotate entire plank to accommodate for hot spots on the grill.

Turn off grill and allow salmon to rest for one or two minutes before removing. Gently remove fish from cedar plank using a spatula, trying to leave the entire layer of skin on the plank. Place salmon directly on serving plate and enjoy.

Tips & Warnings

  • Combine sour cream, fresh cilantro and dill to make an accompanying dip for the smoked salmon.
  • Use leftover fish to make scrumptious salmon cakes.
  • Fresh salmon should be firm and thick with a glistening skin. This method of cooking also works with frozen salmon, simply allow enough time for the fish to thaw immediately before using it.
  • The edges of the plank may turn to coal while grilling; use caution when moving hot planks.
  • This recipe does not use a brining process. Fish should be consumed immediately or stored in a refrigerator for up to three days.
  • Some grilling planks are single use. Discard after the plank cools.
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