Maple-Smoked Salmon Steaks with Maple-Mustard Sauce
For the maple brine:
- 1⁄4 cup table salt
- 1⁄3 cup maple syrup, preferably Grade B
- 1 tsp. whole peppercorns, crushed
- 6 cups ice water
- 6 salmon steaks, each about 1⁄2 lb.
For the maple-mustard sauce:
- 3 Tbs. maple sugar or firmly packed golden
- 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- 1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1⁄3 cup mild-flavored oil, such as grapeseed
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
- Canola oil for oiling the grill grate
- 2 or 3 handfuls maple, alder or hickory wood
chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes, plus 1
additional handful dry wood chips if using a
In a glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the salt, maple syrup, peppercorns and water until the salt is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Submerge the salmon steaks in the brine, weighting them down with a plate, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Do not brine the salmon longer or it may become mushy or too salty.
Air-dry the surface of the salmon
Remove the salmon from the brine and rinse under running cold water. Rub your finger along the salmon flesh to make sure all of the small bones have been removed. Pat dry and place the salmon steaks on a large wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the surface of the salmon is dry and shiny, about 2 hours.
Make the mustard sauce
In a bowl, mix together the maple sugar and vinegar and let stand for 5 minutes until the sugar begins to dissolve. Add the mustard and whisk to completely dissolve the sugar. Gradually whisk in the oil. Stir in the tarragon. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Prepare the grill
About 20 minutes before you start cooking, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat. Rub the grill grate with canola oil.
Smoke the salmon and clean the grill
Place the salmon steaks over the drip pan. Cover the grill and cook for 15 minutes. Add the wood chips to the coals or the smoker box. Re-cover and cook until the salmon flesh is barely opaque at the center when tested with a knife tip, about 15 minutes more. Let the salmon cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (Remember to clean the grill while it is still hot.)
Chill and serve the salmon
Place the salmon on a platter, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove the mustard sauce from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Serve the chilled salmon with a spoonful of the mustard sauce on the side. Serves 6.
Chef?s Tip: If you are short on time, and the kitchen is cool, you can air-dry the salmon outside of the refrigerator. Place the salmon, on the rack and baking sheet, on a work surface. Train an electric fan, on medium speed, directly on the salmon. The surface will become dry and shiny in about 45 minutes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Mastering Series, Grilling & Barbecuing, by Rick Rodgers (Simon & Schuster, 2006).