This recipe has a two hour marinade and a two hour cook time, a fast and tasty alternative for beautiful hot smoked salmon.
Traditionally, smoked salmon recipes call for an extended brining AND drying time. The long brine was to actually cure the meat, and the overnight dry was to allow enough time for the fish form a pellicle (or film/skin) on the outside of the flesh. Smoke is able to adhere better to the pellicle, so you do get a smokier result.
When I developed my recipe, I was not looking to cure and preserve the fish to eat at a later time – it’s meant for dinner the same evening! So, the “curing” time is cut down to a few mere hours of marinading time, and we’re going to “cheat” the same effects of a pellicle by using quality maple syrup – which gives the smoke something to cling to.
Make sure you choose the best salmon you can get:
The fish is the absolute star of the dish. Yes – there is a marinade to help it along, and the smoke and maple add smokey sweet nuances, but using a quality piece of fish is going to majorly affect the final outcome. I love using Sockeye salmon for this recipe. I’ve been really impressed with the salmon from the Bristol Bay region of Alaska (it’s not a brand, but rather a collective of over 8000 fishermen). Bristol Bay salmon is pretty much available nationwide in select groceries, so keep an eye out. You can also order it online.
Selecting the right booze for your brine:
Along with a host of other ingredients, the brine for this salmon includes a good swig of Gin. I chose to use gin because it has some super herby botanicals which work so well with the fatty salmon. It is really VERY subtle by the time you add soy, Worcestershire and smoke, BUT if you absolutely can’t stand the idea of using gin, you can substitute it. Vodka is the most obvious neutral replacement, but you could also play around with using whiskey or bourbon.