Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: August 26, 2022

Salmon is considered a delicacy in many countries, and its rich, decadent flavor warrants that description.

Serving delicious smoked salmon to your guests may sound ambitious, but it's easier than you think.

With a little time and effort, your friends may soon be calling you the new Masterchef.

Haul out that stovetop smoker, and we will walk you through smoking some salmon.

Quick Summary

  • Setting up the smoker.
  • Preparing the salmon with brines and/or seasonings.
  • Smoked salmon and brine recipe
  • Wood chips suitable for smoking salmon.
  • How to choose your cut of salmon.

Some factors that will give you the best possible results when smoking salmon on your stovetop smoker are: choosing the best piece of fish when buying, choosing the best salmon variety, brining and seasoning – knowing what to use, and trusting the easy process.

Smoking Salmon In A Stovetop Smoker

Rows of smoked salmon

To smoke salmon indoors, you can either use a commercial stovetop smoker or make your own using equipment you already have in your kitchen.

A DIY version of a stovetop smoker could consist of a baking or oven pan, a rack to lay the salmon on, some foil to cover it, and a well-fitting lid.

If you don't have a lid that fits, you can cover it with foil, but this doesn't seal as well.

First, place the wood chips at the bottom of the pan and lay the drip tray on top of the chips. For easy cleaning, you can wrap the drip tray in aluminum foil.

Then the rack goes into the drip tray, and your smoker is ready for that scrumptious salmon filet [1].

Preparing The Salmon

Some cooks brine the salmon before smoking, and others use a rub to flavor the fish.

Rub To Flavor The Salmon

Seasoning doesn't have to be complicated, and a rub can be a simple combination of sugar, salt, and oil. For 2 filets of half a pound each, you can use a tablespoon of oil and 2 ounces of sugar and salt.

Another recipe with a few more ingredients to tempt your palate may look like this one from the Washington Post [2]. The rub can be made ahead of time and kept for a month.

Smoked Salmon Recipe

Salmon topped with peppercorns

Ingredients

  • Half a tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 x 8oz salmon filets with the skin on
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon smoked salt
  • Half a tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Half a teaspoon ground coriander
  • Half a teaspoon chile powder

Method

  1. Coat the salmon with the oil and then the lime juice. Let it rest for 20 minutes to an hour.
  2. Combine the spices in a small bowl and coat the salmon with the rub.
  3. Lay the salmon on the rack, with the skin side facing down.
  4. Place on top of the stove's burner and turn the temperature to medium-high until the smoke starts coming out.
  5. 5-10 minutes later, set the heat to medium-low and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

Brine Recipe For Salmon

Close up of cooked salmon besides lemon

Some chefs prefer to brine their salmon before smoking it low and slow. Here is a recipe from macheesmo.com to use on 2 pounds of salmon filets [3].

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2/3 cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method

Place the salmon in a shallow container. Combine all the ingredients and pour the brine over the fish to cover it completely.

Cover the container and refrigerate it for 24-36 hours. Turn the salmon halfway to make sure that brining is done evenly.

Drain the brine and allow the salmon to dry for about 2 hours. The fish will become sticky on the outside, and it is now ready to go into the smoker. Season it or preheat with the already soaked wood chips and the filled water pan.

Smoke the salmon at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest temperature possible.

Leave it for 2 hours. If it isn't cooking too quickly, you can increase the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The salmon should be ready in 3-4 hours.

Wood Chips Suitable For Smoking Salmon

You will usually get some wood chips with your smoker. If you’re not using those, you will need about 1 cup of maple wood chips.

You can also use cherry, hickory, or Applewood [4]. Soak the chips in water for an hour before draining them.

Make sure that the chips are very small, or the smoker won’t fit together nicely, and you also won’t have the amount of smoke necessary for the job.

Choosing Your Salmon For The Smoker

Top view of uncooked salmon

Getting the best taste from your smoked salmon means you need to buy the best possible cuts of fish [5].

Here are some guidelines:

  • Regardless of the cut you buy, the salmon should look fresh, thick, and moist, showing no blemishes or spots.
  • If you are cooking for a few people, salmon filets are best, but a whole side is more appropriate for a crowd.
  • A side is also better for smoking the fish.
  • Fresh salmon displayed in the store refrigerators have likely been frozen by fishermen and then defrosted after arriving at the store. “Flash-frozen” salmon was frozen immediately and maintained the nutrients and flavors, so in this case, the frozen variety may be a better choice.
  • There are 5 different types of salmon. These vary in the amount of oil content, color, and size. The bigger and pinker the fish, with the most oil in the meat, the better your smoked salmon is going to taste.
  • The different types of Pacific salmon are as follows: King (Chinook), Coho (Silver), Sockeye (Red), Pink (Humpy), and Chum(Dog or Keta). King is the best for nearly all methods of cooking.

Conclusion

With a careful selection of your salmon and some good seasoning or brine, it is easy to impress your dinner guests with a rich and decadent smoked salmon that you have been able to put together in your kitchen with no fuss and bother.

Easier than you think and more delicious than you can believe!

If you wish to smoke your fish perfectly outdoors, we listed the top fish smokers on the market for you.


References:

  1. https://www.foodrepublic.com/2016/01/25/how-to-use-an-indoor-smoker-plus-a-salmon-recipe/
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/indoor-smoked-salmon/
  3. https://www.macheesmo.com/hot-smoked-salmon-recipe/
  4. https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/how-to-cook/how-to-hot-smoke-salmon/
  5. https://www.allrecipes.com/article/how-to-buy-the-best-salmon-at-the-grocery-store/

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