Ingredients for the Salmon Cure:
1 side of salmon
150g rock/sea salt
150g brown sugar (or caster sugar)
And a good pinch of dried dill*
* You can use whatever dried herbs you fancy to enhance flavour.
Ingredients for the Cold Smoke:
Beech or Oak Wood Dust
Smoker (dustbin or a purpose purchased)
1 cured side of salmon
Remember you can cure using citrus juices, vodka, gin and whisky but whatever you do, make sure the cure flavours will complement the flavours that will be infused when the salmon side is cold smoked. Have fun and be bold with flavours, particularly as salmon is an oily fish, it can hold it's own.
The cold smoke that follows doesn't really require much effort; you can either build your own cold smoker (see here for the home-made smoker concept) or use a BBQ with a lid. You can of course purchase a hot and cold smoker from any number of websites and a good jumping off place is here.
Once you have cleaned and removed all the pin bones from the salmon with your fish tweezers, make sure you pat dry, as you want it dry. Mix the cure together in a bowl and when this is done put to one side.
Now, on the counter, roll out a long piece of cling-film (the cling-film needs to be twice as long as you salmon fillet), rub it down so that it sticks and then lay a second piece of cling-film on top. Now place half the cure on the cling-film and the skin of the salmon directly on it. Take the remaining cure and cure on the top of the salmon fillet. Make sure that you rub in any extra cure on the thicker parts of the salmon side and then fold the long end of the cling-film back over the salmon and wrap as tightly as possible.
Place the salmon side on a rack and over a dish as the cling-film parcel may leak fluid. Leave in the fridge for 24 hours. You will see the salmon flesh takes on a different colour and texture during the curing process and you'll know it is cured, as the colour is darker and more intense.
The next stage in the curing process is to remove the salmon from the fridge, and unwrap the fillet. It's really important to rinse it off the salt, sugar and remaining cure under cold water and pat dry with kitchen towel. You will need to leave the salmon uncovered in the fridge for another 24 hours so it forms a pellicle that helps it take on smoke.
After 48 hours curing, your fish is ready to smoke. At this point, you need to fill your Q Smoker with enough wood dust and place in the base of your cold smoker. Make sure that you set light to the wood dust by using a tea-light before placing in the base of the dustbin or BBQ, it just makes life easier. Then lay your fillet on the grill shelf, place the lid firmly on and leave for 24 hours. If you are using a BBQ or dustbin, it's advisable to put some bricks on the lid to ensure that the foxes, cats and other wildlife don't flip the lid off and consume your lovely fish.
Once you've smoked your salmon for 24 hours, it is ready for you to serve on blinis with some caviar, or simply have it as a rustic lunch filler or the starter to a dinner party. It slices beautifully and if vacuum packed will last a number of weeks in your fridge (and longer in your freezer).
If you do make this recipe, you will find yourself questioning why you bought supermarket gravadlax (gravlax) ever, as this has to be one of the simplest recipes and it produces the most amazingly delicious fish without you having to spend hours tendering or even putting it on the stove or in the oven!
This cure works for any oily fish such as trout and mackerel. And remember that home smoking doesn't need to be expense, as you can simply rename a metal dustbin something like The Silver Smoker, and it will work just the same.