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Stovetop Smoked Salmon

Use only smoking fuel intended for cooking, either hardwood chips sold for grilling or special smoking dusts packaged by manufacturers of smokers. A delicious Chinese alternative is combining 1 heaping Tbs. each raw rice, tea leaves and sugar; the mixture will smolder and release its own fragrant smoke.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Scant 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. salmon fillet, skin intact and pin bones removed

Directions:

Season the salmon
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt and pepper. Place the salmon on a plate and spread the seasonings over the bone side of the fillet, applying them more heavily on the thickest parts.

Set up the smoking pan
Choose a deep cast-iron or stainless-steel fry pan large enough to hold the fillet on a footed wire rack inside the pan, or a shallow pan where the rack rests on the rim. Cut a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil 18 inches wide and 3 times as long as the width or diameter of the rack. Center the foil in the pan and press it against the surface. Sprinkle a large handful of fine hardwood smoking chips (see note above) in the middle of the pan and set the rack on top.

Rinse the fillet, pat dry and place on the rack, skin side down. Bring the edges of the foil up and crimp together to form a tent over the fillet, allowing space for the smoke to circulate and leaving a small vent open.

Smoke the salmon
Turn on the stove exhaust fan. Warm the pan over medium-high heat until smoke begins to emerge from the vent. Reduce the heat to medium-low, crimp the vent closed and cook the salmon for about 10 minutes. Open the foil to check for doneness; the salmon should be opaque throughout. If necessary, reseal and continue to cook until done.

Divide the fillet into 4 portions or serve whole and carve at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Seafood, by Jay Harlow (Oxmoor House, 2007).