Smoked/Peppered Salmon

This was on the cover of Sunset Magazine a few years ago. Guest contributor Jim Shores, has tried it numerous times with success. The inspiration comes from pastrami. You cook it slowly in a covered barbecue:

The Brine

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 T. salt

1 T. fresh minced ginger

2 or 3 bay leaves

1 tsp. crushed whole allspice

1 salmon fillet with skin, 3-3 1/2 pounds and 1-1 1/2 inches thick

About1/2 cup mixed whole peppercorns (pink, green, white, black)


The Grilling Touches

About 1 cup of apple or hickory wood chips {Start these soaking in water one hour before you put the fish on the grill)

1-3 T. honey (Enough to cover the up-side of the fish when you spread it on)

2-3 red onion slices

Fresh dill sprigs optional for garnish.



In a 2-3 quart saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water, sugar, salt, ginger, bay leaves and allspice to boiling over high heat; stir until sugar dissolves completely. Let cool slightly to room temp.

Rinse salmon fillet, pat dry and lay flat with skin down in a rimmed pan about 12 X 15 inches. Pour sugar/salt mixture over salmon. Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and chill fish at least 4 or up to 24 hours.

Occasionally spoon brine over fish.

Mound a chimney full of coals (heaping) and start the fire (Your wood chips should be in water before you light the charcoal).

Meanwhile, pour enough hot water over peppercorns to float them in a small bowl; soak at least 15 minutes.

Pour brine off fish; rinse fish with cool water and pat dry. Set skin side down on a large sheet of foil. Cut foil along outline of fish.

Rub honey over top of fish; drain peppercorns and scatter evenly over fish, patting them lightly in place.

Coals ready, slightly gray? Pour or push half the coals to each side of the firegrate.

Set grill 4-6 inches above the firebed. Lightly coat the grill with oil (Pam). Place salmon on tin foil in center of grill (no coals should be beneath the salmon). Drain wood chips and scatter a small handful on each mound of coals. Put the lid on the kettle and let it smoke. Repeat the wood chips on the coals in half an hour and again in the next half hour. Total cooking time should be about 1 1/2 hours or so.

You can check the temp of the fish with a thermometer to read about 140 degrees when it is done in the center of the thickest part of the salmon.

This can be served right from the grill by cutting the fish with a sharp knife and putting the individual pieces right on the guests plates for minimum loss of heat from grill to table.

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