Brined, cold-smoked and seared

Savoury salmon at The Lake House in Calgary

T&C Eye Candy / The Lake House / Photo by Pamela Daitch

Editor’s note: This contest post was produced as part of an arms length collaboration with Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts. It was not reviewed or edited by our partners before publication.


We’re huge fans of smoked salmon over here at Toque & Canoe.

My brother and I grew up with a father who, to this day, prepares his own fish on a bed of hickory chips in his backyard smoker.

In my Dad’s circles, his smoked salmon—lovingly massaged with kosher salt and brown sugar—is legendary. When family plans to visit from afar, we always phone and make our request:  “Smoked salmon, please!”

The result upon our arrival? The most flavourful, moist and tender smoked salmon we’ve ever known.

And so, naturally, it’s with some hesitation that I suggest a little competition has stepped into the ring.

The competition I speak of can be found atop a bowl of seafood chowder, created by Chef Thomas Neukom at The Lake House in Calgary, Alberta.

Brined, cold-smoked and then seared before being served on a bed of mussels, octopus and shrimp, this melt-in-your-mouth delight hits it out of the ball park and then some.

Of course, nothing will ever compare with Dad’s recipe—always delivered with enthusiasm and laughter as legendary as his salmon.

But in this case, I think even my father would approve. — Kim Gray


Contest Alert:  All of this smoked salmon talk has us wondering over here in our pint-sized office.

Do you smoke your own salmon? How do you prepare it, and who taught you? What’s the secret, in your opinion, to the most delicious smoked salmon you’ve ever enjoyed?

Tell us below if you care to share. There’ll be some Toque & Canoe swag in it for the top 5 comments.

Entries for this mini-contest accepted until midnight February 10, 2017.

***Contest update: We’ll be in touch with everyone who shared recipes below. Thanks for participating!


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  1. Jessica Harrison commented:

    My mom is the smoked salmon making expert in our family and my dad makes the smoke houses. The brine is simple. 1 part kosher salt, 1 part Demerara sugar for the hot smoke recipe and just salt for the cold smoke. The filets are coated with the brining mix in a large Rubbermaid tote. How long the fish brines depends on the thickness of the meat. Then we rinse off the brine and pat dry the fillets. Large salmon with thick skin can be hung outside in a breezy shady spot to dry for the day. Small fillets can be placed on a bakers rack to dry. We use fruit woods whenever available and tend the smoker all day keeping it smouldering. Large ocean caught fish are usually cold smoked into delicate lox and the smaller fish are hot smoked and basted with a little maple syrup to form a delicious glaze. Yum. When I bought a house of my own, one of the first things I asked my dad for was a small smokehouse of my own.


  2. Sigrid von Stadt commented:

    Alder smoked Fraser River Salmon.
    You can use Chum or Pink due to the high fat or Omega oils for you healthy folk.
    In a BBQ smoker get a fire going until you read 120 F.
    Next prepare fish in a filet smoke skin side down on grill. Make a rub of salt and or maple syrup if you want candie Salmon.
    Add some apple wood chips or any fruit wood. Let it smoke most of the day and keep the temp constant. If your fish starts to show white stripes, lower heat with water spray.
    For dry fish smoke it longer.


  3. Sian commented:

    Brine your fish in a covered glass dish overnight
    5 pounds salmon (sockeye if you caught it)
    4 cups cool water
    1/3 cup kosher salt
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup maple syrup

    More maple syrup for basting

    Place fish in smoker with wood chips, I like alder. Smoke according to directions for smoker

    I love to can my smoked fish. The oils in the jar make for a syrup that makes the fish so delicious.

    Sweet flavour and hot smoked are combinations that take me back to my childhood.


  4. Andrea commented:

    Here, in our tiny prairie village, smoking fish was the business of old men. Ten years ago, at Formica kitchen tables, smoked trout and whitefish wrapped in Saran wrap was common snack fare in the winter evenings alongside deer sausage and whiskey. As old men do, including most of the original smokers, they have since passed or taken to their beds, making the sweet, smokey trout an uncommon treat. Fresh trout, caught from the lakes or netted out of planted populations in the deeper sloughs with shrimp populations, were brined in a simple sugar salt solution. L’il Chief smokers with their thin aluminum doors were prized for their economy of size and price. Practicalities prevailed and simple flavours were the preference as it seemed to best suit the ever present whiskey and brew.


  5. Becky Denny commented:

    My grandfather had a home made smoker made from an old fridge, I remember the smells wafting through the property and was always excited for a taste.
    Now I have a smoker and try as I might I can’t come close to what he made, rubbed with spices and coated in brown sugar then smoked for what seemed like ages his smoked salmon is one I just can’t match!


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