- 1 sockeye salmon fillet
- ½ cup Salt
- ½ cup Maple Syrup
- Zest of 1 Large orange
- ½ gallon of water- enough to cover fillet
Make the Brine
- To make the brine combine salt, maple syrup, orange zest, and water. Mix until dissolved.
- Place the thawed sockeye salmon fillet in the brine, add water if needed to completely submerge the fillet into the brine.
- Allow the fillet to marinate in the brine for 4 hours.
- Remove the fillet from the brine and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Prepare the grill
- Remove the grid grill grate and flame taming plates from half of the grill.
- Place the cast iron Dutch oven or other fire box into the grill body to hold the fire starter.
- Start the fire with charcoal or other food safe tinder and tend until a bed of coals is established.
- Once the coals are ready, add your smoking wood of choice.
- Captain Steve suggests using green wood from a fruit tree such as apple or pear. Fruit trees give a mild and sweet smoky flavor. Using “green” (not dried out) wood makes the fire burn slowly creating more smoke and less intense heat. You can also use wood pellets, chips, chunks, or kindling from a variety of wood types to create different flavors.
Smoke the Salmon
- Once the fire is ready, add your brined and dried salmon fillet to the top rack of your grill as far from the heat source as possible.
- The ideal internal temperature of the grill is 250F which will allow the salmon fillet to cook slowly while becoming infused with the smoky flavor. Variables such as the weather and size of the fillet, grill, and fire can affect the smoking time. You’ll want to adjust the set up of your grill to keep a stable temperature.
- Lower Grill Temp: Keeping the cover open slightly, adding a pan of water, and damping the fire can help keep the temperature down.
- Raise Grill Temp: Building a larger fire, moving the grill out of direct wind, and leaving the cover closed as long as possible will help keep the temperature up.
- In our YouTube video the weather was mid 60s and fairly breezy, so the salmon fillet smoked for 2.5 hours to reach an internal temperature of 145F.
- Every 30 minutes baste the salmon fillet with an even amount of maple syrup for a caramelized sweet finish.
- As the salmon begins to cook it will become opaque and shiny, at this time you can begin to check the internal temperature. It has finished cooking once it reached an internal temperature of 145F.
Serve as is or as an appetizer with simple ingredients like crackers, cucumbers, and soft cheeses to let the smoky flavor of the salmon shine.