If you’ve ever had freshly smoked salmon, you know what I mean when I say it can’t be beat. This salmon recipe takes a traditional smoked salmon one step beyond its natural deliciousness by incorporating a sweet and savory rub. The rub offers a mild flavoring that pairs well with the smokiness of the salmon in salads, on bagels, or even just when eaten plain! It’s one your dinner (or brunch) guests are sure to rave about time and time again.
If you enjoy this recipe, head over to my personal blog at www.chocolateandmarrow.com for more fun recipe ideas!
Sweet and Savory Traeger Smoked Salmon
Prep time: 40 minutes, plus 12-24 hours to cure
Cook time: 2-3 hours
Recommended Pellets: Apple or Cherry
½ cup of white sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
2 large fillets of salmon (approximately 3-4 lbs)
Sweet & Savory Rub Ingredients
¼ cup of paprika
1 tablespoon of garlic powder or granulated garlic
1 tablespoon of salt
1/3 cup of brown sugar
Combine the curing ingredients—white sugar, brown sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper—in a medium size bowl and mix together. (Note: Be sure that you are using kosher salt. If you don’t have kosher salt and are instead using sea salt or table salt, reduce the amount of salt to 1/8 cup.)
Place a stretch of tin foil on top of a long, rimmed baking sheet (at least the length of your salmon fillets.) Place a layer of plastic wrap, such as Saran wrap, on top of the tin foil layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the curing ingredient mixture on top of the saran wrap in a line about the length and width of the salmon fillet. Lay the salmon fillet (skin side down, if it has skin on) on top of the cure mixture and spread another 1/3 of the mixture on the flesh side of the salmon.
Then take the 2nd salmon fillet and place it flesh side down on top of the first fillet. Rub the final 1/3 of the curing mixture on top of the skin-side of the 2nd fillet half. Place another layer of plastic wrap followed by another layer of foil on top of both fillets and wrap up the ends so that the salmon and cure is tightly encased in the plastic and foil wrap. In sum, your layers should be ordered: foil, plastic wrap, curing mixture, salmon fillet, curing mixture, salmon fillet, curing mixture, plastic wrap, and foil.
Place the entire baking sheet into the refrigerator and top with another baking sheet. Finally, place something heavy, such as a phone book or bottles, on top of the baking sheet so that the weight is distributed evenly along the salmon fillets. This helps the excess water leave the salmon fillets, which is replaced by the flavors of the curing ingredients. Allow the fillets to cure in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, turning it roughly halfway through the curing process. (Be careful of dripping liquids when you flip the salmon!) Wrap tight in foil and put back in the refrigerator.
Mix together the sweet and savory rub ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the flesh side of the salmon fillets and gently pat the rub into the fillets. Shake off excess rub, lay fillets flat on baking sheet in a cool, dry place (not in the refrigerator), and allow to rest for 1 hour. This firms up the exterior of the flesh and allows for the smoke to bond more thoroughly with the fish. Don’t skip the step of shaking off the excess rub—too much and it will overwhelm the smoked salmon’s natural flavors—you only need a very thin dusting.
Once your fish is finished drying, start your Traeger grill. Set it to “smoke” with the lid open until a fire is established. Once you see smoke billowing out from it, set your salmon fillets skin-side down on the grill, keeping the dial set on “smoke.” Smoke for 1-3 hours, or until a temperature inserted into the thickest part of the salmon registers 150 degrees F. While the fish is smoking, be sure to monitor the temperature closely to ensure that it does not get above 160 degrees F. If you notice it getting above 160 degrees, either remove some pellets (fewer pellets mean less heat) and/or prop open the grill lid slightly (about 1 inch) to maintain a steady lower temperature.
Apple and cherry wood pellets pair nicely with this recipe, though it is versatile enough to work with any Traeger pellet type.
Smoked salmon is good on pizza, bagels, salads, etc. We hope you enjoy this amazing recipe!
Pintable recipe. Guest blog post Sweet and Savory Smoked Salmon.docx (118.23 kb)