Who doesn’t love smoked salmon? When you speak of smoked salmon, most people think of cold smoked salmon (like Lox). Cold smoked salmon is the process of separating the salmon fillets from the heat source. The coals and wood chips are heated in one enclosed unit to create the smoke. The smoke is then pipped to a second sealed enclosure where the salmon (or other fish) is placed (appropriately cured/prepped prior). The salmon never comes in contact with the heat, just the smoke. This is a time consuming process, but for those who love it – well worth it! A favorite of my family and my son can eat it like candy.
Unlike cold smoked salmon – Hot smoked salmon can be made easily at home and in much less time. This appetizer is for a smoked salmon that can be made within an hour vs days. Hot smoked salmon (or anything) involves placing the salmon on a grate in the same container as the coals/smoke, but not in direct contact with the heat source. I will explain how to turn your oven pan into a home smoker if you don’t already have one towards the bottom of this post.
This recipe can also be used as a first course, plated appetizer or main dish. It is very good and as told in many articles, salmon has many great health benefits: vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids that promote proper brain function and cardiovascular health. As an appetizer, one whole filet of salmon can serve a lot of appetizers. Left overs can be tossed with pasta for a quick pasta dinner or lunch or heck, even just a snack.
Smoking the Salmon
There are a couple of versions you can use to flavor the salmon while you smoke it, but I like the simple because the smoke gives so much flavor. I assume you have a stovetop smoker. If not, I will explain below how to simulate one. They are not expensive to purchase and great to have on had for many items. I use Emeril’s cast iron stove top smoker which can also be used for multiple applications and large enough to make pulled pork.. hmmm – that will be another post one of these days..
Back to Salmon.
1 whole salmon filet, cleaned (bones removed) with skin on
1 lemon thinly sliced
Thyme sprigs (or dried thyme) OR Dill Sprigs
2 – 3 TBS Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
1.5 TBS Adler chips (can be found in places that sell stovetop smokers (like Bed Bath and Beyond) and/or hardware stores that sell grills). If you can’t find them, you can use an alternative smoking chip. Just make sure they are about the size of jimmies for stovetop/oven smoking.
- Rub the olive oil on the salmon and season with salt and pepper (both sides)
- Prepare the smoker with the Adler chips, and spray/rub the rack with oil to prevent sticking
- Put the cover on and bring the smoker to 200 degrees (either on stove top or in oven preheated to 200)
- Place the salmon, skin side down, on the rack in the smoker, top with lemon slices and herb sprigs then cover.
- Keep the heat consistent and check the status of the salmon after 25 minutes (no need to turn or baste)
- It should take anywhere between 25 – 45 minutes to smoke the salmon depending on thickness and temperature and your level of doneness. Just don’t over cook it. When in doubt – pull out. ; )
- Remove from smoker, let cool and serve as is or flake for appetizer use. It should keep in the fridge for several days
Assembling the Canapes:
1 Filet of Hot-smoked salmon, skin removed, and broken into flakes (how to smoke is above)
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 large shallots 2 cups crème fraîche 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish (from a jar), plus more to taste 2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus tiny sprigs for garnish 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
About 1 1/2 tablespoons capers kosher salt freshly ground pepper 1 baguette cut into ¼ in thick rounds
- Sautee the shallots in the butter in a sauce pan over med heat until shallots are just tender, season with pinch of salt
- Combine the crème fraiche, horseradish, dill, lemon zest, salt, pepper and capers in bowl, taste and adjust seasoning, refrigerate until ready to use
- Heat the oven to 375, brush the baguette rounds with the shallot butter, bake about 8 minutes or until the toasts begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature
- Assemble: Spread the baguette rounds with the crème fraiche, top with the flaked salmon, top with a dill sprig
Smoking the salmon can be done a couple of days in advance Step 3 above can be done up to one day in advance. Assemble and serve right away or the bread will become soggy. Assemble a few at a time depending on demand.
Don’t have a stove-top smoker or smoker of any kind?
Don’t worry – you can still make this dish.
I think just about every household has a roaster with a rack used for cooking chicken, turkey or beef roasts and tin foil. This is a good substitute for the stove top smoker and practically the same concept.
- Put the wood chips in the center of the bottom of the pan.
- Take the rack used to hold the meat, wrap it in 3 – 5 layers of foil.
- Place the rack above the chips so the tin foil acts as a barrier between the wood and the contents you will eventually place on it. the smoke will seep out around the edges and be contained to impart its flavor into the food.
- Be sure to place the lid on firmly when smoking.
Then proceed as above. Smoking time may vary depending on size, seal of lid, and heat conducting qualities of the pan/pot used.
This process can be used for meats, sausage, fish, veggies, etc.. Flavor of wood chips does play an important part. So just be sure to use complimentary wood chips for the type of item you wish to smoke.
Good Luck and Enjoy!