1 whole salmon fillet (about 2 lbs., approximately ¾ inch thick) skin on, pin bones removed

1 cup whiskey

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh ginger finely chopped

½ cup coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried chili flakes

Zest of one lemon

2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

3 cups alder wood or apple wood chips

Water for soaking

Splash of whiskey for the smoke pouch.


1. Place the salmon in a large, flat container sized to fit the salmon side. Pour the whiskey over the salmon. Let the salmon sit at room temperature in the whiskey bath for 20 minutes. Make the cure by combining the brown sugar, maple syrup, chopped ginger, salt, chili flakes, lemon zest, thyme leaves and cracked black pepper. Drain salmon and pat dry. Spread ½ of the cure on the bottom of a square pan. Place the salmon flesh side down on the cure mixture. Rub the rest of the cure on top of the skin and the sides of the salmon. Be sure to coat evenly.

2. Place a foil covered, heavy object over the salmon to weight it down. Marinate salmon for a minimum of 8 hours (salmon can marinate overnight if time permits). 1½ hours before grill time, place 2 cups (500mL) of woodchips to soak in cool water and let soak for 1 hour. Set aside remaining dry woodchips for later. Prepare barbeque for indirect smoking at 220°F (104°C). Strain the wood chips. Place 2 cups (500mL) of wet wood chips on a large sheet of aluminum foil, mix in 1 cup (250mL) of dry chips, and add a splash of whiskey. Mix until evenly distributed. Close the foil up loosely and make a sealed pouch. Pierce the pouch with a fork in several spots top and bottom to allow smoke to escape. Place the smoke pouch on the burner and wait for smoke.

3. Rinse the cured salmon with cold water and pat dry. You should notice a color change in the salmon and the flesh should be firm because the cure actually cooks the salmon. Place the salmon skin side down on the grill and smoke for 10-15 minutes. The salmon is cooked by the cure marinade and the smoking will add flavour, without changing the texture of the meat. Remove salmon from the grill and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to firm up. Using a very sharp fillet knife, thinly slice the salmon. Serve with mini bagels or crusty bread, cream cheese, onions and capers.

See more: Appetizer, Grill, Fish, Lunch

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