Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wok-smoked salmon

I can see from my watch list that we’re mostly taking a break to deal with holiday festivities, which I assume means some major league cooking. Me, too. I started on Friday by making a stir-fry using some skirt steak I got at an excellent price. I won’t post that ‘cause I’ve done a couple of similar stir fries recently.

However, last night I ventured into uncharted (for me) territory: smoking salmon in my wok. This isn’t my recipe. It’s adapted from the Cooking Channel program “Chuck’s Day Off”. I changed the ingredients of the marinade slightly, subbing in some maple syrup instead of white sugar. Safeway was selling wild-caught Pacific Northwest salmon at 1/2 price!

I also altered the methodology somewhat. Chuck called for dissolving the marinade ingredients in hot water and then putting the salmon into it. I didn’t like that idea. I figured the salmon would start cooking. So I let the marinade come to room temp first. The package of mesquite wood chips said to soak in water for 30 minutes. Chuck indicated just to pour a ½ cup water over the chips in the wok. I went with the package directions.

Chuck wants you to marinate the salmon overnight. I only had 3 ½ hours. I suspect there would be an even greater depth of flavor with a longer time, but the taste and texture of the final product was so astounding as to be mind-boggling.

Home-smoked salmon
3 cups hot water
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
4 tbsp kosher or coarse salt
2 4-6 oz. salmon filets, skin-on
1 to 2 cups mesquite wood chips
olive oil and lemon juice for garnish

Dissolve the first 5 ingredients in the hot water and let it cool to room temperature. Put the marinade and the salmon into a non-reactive container and weigh the salmon down so that it stays submerged. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove salmon from marinade and discard the liquid. Rinse salmon under cold water briefly to remove excess salt. Put it on a rack, skin side down, for 1 hour until it is completely dry. Do not pat dry.

Soak the wood chips (any flavor you like) for 30 minutes in water.

Prepare wok smoker: Lay 2 layers of foil in the bottom of the wok to protect the pan from getting charred. Add 2 handfuls of wood chips and place it over high heat. (8 on my ranges 1-10 dial. Once the smoke gets really going you can reduce to 6.) Position a bamboo steamer over the top of the chips, and set the salmon fillets inside.

Cover the wok with a lid or foil and let the salmon smoke for 20-30 minutes, or until its flesh is firm to the touch, and its edges are brown, crusted and caramelized.

Remove salmon from the wok, remove the skin if you wish (I did), and transfer to serving plates. Drizzle with olive oil to garnish and serve with a salad.


Jenn said...

What a great way to smoke fish! I love the idea. Oh, I bet that salmon tasted fabulous! They are beautiful looking pieces of fish. Congrats on stepping into uncharted waters...I love your fearlessness in the kitchen! Hope you guys had a fantastic 4th!

Melanie said...

Another unique way to do something at home (like your ground beef post). I love smoked salmon but haven't ever dared try it. Glad to see this simple recipe!

Andrea said...

Must. Get. Wok!! 'Nuff said :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Steven- I am so happy to have stummbled upon your blog today (through a comment on For The Love Of Cooking)! The recipes I have seen look amazing (especially the wok-smoked salmon), and I am looking forward to browsing more when time allows!

Kim in MD

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