Simple 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.” – Williams-Sonoma
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (divided)
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 ½ — 2 pound center cut salmon fillet (skin on, pin bones removed)
Season the salmon: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place the salmon on a plate and spread the seasonings over the flesh of the fillet, applying them more heavily on the thickest parts. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
Set up the smoking pan: Choose a deep cast-iron or stainless-steel fry pan sized to hold on wire rack can that it rest on the rim of the pan. 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 in the middle of the pan and set the rack on top.
Rinse the fillet and pat dry. Cut the fillet into 4 equal portions and place on rack without touching, skin side down. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and remaining black pepper. Bring the edges of the foil up and crimp together to form a tent over the fillets, allowing some room above the fillets for the smoke to circulate and leaving a very small vent at the top.
Smoke the salmon: Turn on the stove exhaust fan and open some windows. Heat the pan over medium-high heat until smoke begins to emerge from the vent. Reduce heat to medium-low, crimp vent closed and cook the salmon for 10–12 minutes. Open the foil to check for doneness; the salmon should be opaque throughout. If necessary, reseal and continue to cook until done. Serve warm or at room temperature.