Stove-Top Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon
Michael Piazza / Getty Images
  • 50 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 12 servings
Ratings (12)

The phrase "smoked salmon" gets used to describe what is, in fact, cured salmon. While also terribly and fabulously delicious, salt-cured salmon like gravlax never sees smoke and cold-smoked fish like lox retain its soft texture and take up a limited, if any, smoke flavor.

Here, we have truly smoked salmon—salmon cooked by the heat of smoke, while also getting infused with rich smoked flavor—made at home, on the stove. No, you don't need a smoker. Or, rather, you don't need a commercial smoker; you're going to make a small, stove-top version out of stuff in the kitchen!

Would you prefer to smoke salmon outside? See How to Smoke Salmon on the Grill. Looking for silky smooth cured salmon? Try this recipe for Gravlax.

What You'll Need

  • About 2 pounds of salmon filet or how much will fit on the rack below
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 cup wood chips (I love the taste that cedar brings to salmon, but hickory is easier to find)
  • Large wok, roasting pan, or other large cooking vessel
  • Cake rack, cooling rack, or indoor grilling rack that fits in the cooking vessel
  • Plenty of foil

How to Make It

  1. First thing first, pull out any pin bones from the salmon filet(s).
  2. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Put about 1/3 of it on the bottom of a baking pan, set the salmon on top and cover the salmon with the remaining sugar-salt mixture. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. The mixture will pull out moisture from the salmon and infuse it with flavor, helping create the distinctive extremely firm, slightly sweet flavor of traditionally smoked salmon.
  1. Put the wood chips in a large bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak at least 30 minutes. Drain them, being careful to catch any wood bits from going down the drain and clogging the pipes or messing with the disposal (a lesson hard learned!).
  2. Put the soaked wood chips in the bottom of the wok or roasting pan, lightly grease the rack and set it over the wood chips. Set the salmon, skin side-down, on the rack.
  3. Heat the pan over high heat until the chips start to smoke. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with several layers of extremely well-sealed foil. In short, you want to keep the smoke in the pan with the salmon. Cook, undisturbed for 30 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the salmon cool in the sealed smoky pan. When the pan is cooled off enough so you can handle it easily, unwrap the salmon (have a window open just in case there is still a lot of smoke in there, although it should have dissipated by this point). Serve the salmon warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Note that although the salmon is smoked, it is not shelf-stable. It will last about a week in the fridge, but isn't preserved beyond that point.