It’s never too hot to grill (even in Texas). My husband and I recently tried our hand at smoking wild salmon, and I think it turned out pretty darn good…
Step 1 – If you’re going to be smoking fish at home, always start with a very fresh fillet. I used to work at a fish market, so I know how to finagle a fishmonger into giving me the freshest fillet in the market. Here’s how it works:
Monger: How may I help you today miss?
Savvy Customer: When did the sockeye arrive at the market?
SC: Do you have any whole fish? (Some whole fish have a longer shelf life than fillets.)
M: No, I’m sorry we’re sold out.
SC: No problem. These fillets here, do you process them in-house?
M: No, they arrive already filleted.
SC: I like the look of these in the case, but do you have any in the back that might be fresher?
M: Yes, as a matter of fact we do have some cases that arrived this morning. Let me just go to the back and fetch one for you.
SC: (smiling politely) Why thank you!
M: Here you go. You can see the harvest date right here (points to the unopened case with his index finger, opens the case, and removes a glistening, sweet-smelling fillet). How about this one?
SC: Perfect! Thanks for all your help! (secretly to herself: Damn I’m good.)
Step 2 – Rub skin-on fillet with “smoky” rub of choice and season lightly with sea salt. I used a Moroccan spice blend that my sister Caitlin brought home from her trip to Morocco last January. There’s no other way to describe it other than divine. I think I detect hints of saffron and pimentón, if you’d like to try to recreate it.
Step 3 – Prepare charcoal grill; simultaneously soak planks or logs of your choosing (cedar, pecan, mesquite, maple, etc.). Spread the hot coals evenly over the grill, then top the soaked planks. Spray the skin-side of the fillet and the grill grate liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Place the fillet in the center of the grill and close the lid. Hot-smoke for approximately 15 min. Do not over cook!
Step 4 – Move fish from grill to serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Step 4 – Slice salmon and serve with salsa verde (preferrably homemade) and cool Greek yogurt to temper the heat.