How to Smoke – and Serve – Salmon

New Zealand’s salmon fishing season draws to a close in late April, so autumn is the perfect time to really make the most of your late-season catch! Here’s how you can smoke it at home, and serve it in a way that will seriously tickle your tastebuds.

Smoke Your Own Salmon

The ‘smoked salmon’ you find at the supermarket is actually cured salmon, and never sees even a whisper of smoke. Truly smoked salmon, which is cooked by the heat of smoke, is infused with a rich smoked flavour.

If you’ve never attempted it, smoking your own salmon at home is easier than you think – and you don’t need a fancy, dedicated smoker to get the job done! DIY-ing a small stovetop smoker from things you already have in the kitchen works just as well. Here’s how.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup wood chips
  • Aluminium foil
  • Baking pan
  • A large cooking vessel like a roasting pan
  • A cake or cooling rack that can fit inside the cooking vessel


  • 1kg skin-on salmon filet
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for the rack


  • Remove the pin bones from the salmon
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper
  • Spread around one-third of the mixture evenly on the bottom of a large baking pan
  • Place the salmon on the pan and cover with the remaining sugar-salt mixture
  • Cover and chill for at least 4 hours (ideally overnight)
  • Soak your wood chips in water for 30 minutes in a large bowl, then drain
  • Put the soaked wood chips in the bottom of your roasting pan
  • Lightly grease your cake or cooling rack with vegetable oil and set it over the wood chips
  • Rinse the cure from the salmon under cold water and pat dry
  • Put the salmon on the rack, skin-side-down
  • Heat the roasting pan on high until the chips start to smoke
  • Reduce heat to low and cover pan with several layers of aluminium foil and seal very tightly to keep the smoke inside the pan
  • Cook undisturbed for 30 minutes
  • Turn off the heat and let salmon cool in the sealed smoky pan
  • When the pan is cool enough to touch, unwrap the salmon
  • Serve salmon warm, at room temperature, or chilled

7 Simple Ways to Serve Smoked Salmon

  1. Drape thinly sliced smoked salmon onto small chunks of warm crusty bread and top with a dab of sour cream and a twist of black pepper
  2. Mix chunks of salmon with cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice to make a delicious dip that you can spread on crackers
  3. Cut slices of smoked salmon into 3cm strips, squeeze fresh lemon juice over each, sprinkle with black pepper to taste. Roll the strips up and spear them with a toothpick
  4. Toast multigrain bread, top with scrambled eggs, then layer a couple of thin slices of salmon over top
  5. Cut some hearty chunks of French stick, spread over some mashed avocado, and top with smoked salmon and a dollop of sour cream
  6. Cut your salmon into chunks and toss into a salad with lettuce, red onion and cherry tomatoes, then drizzle with lemon juice and mayo
  7. Slap your smoked salmon on a bagel with cream cheese and be done with it! This might just be our favourite way to enjoy it
Hickory, oak or applewood chips are ideal for smoking salmon. They all lend a slightly different flavour to the fish, so experiment to find just the right smoke flavour – or blend!
Don’t let your leftover salmon go to waste! With proper packaging in  an airtight freezer bag or container, these fatty fish can be stored for at least three months in the freezer before their quality starts to deteriorate.

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