Have you ever tried smoked salmon? Personally, it’s my favorite snack and I love making it. It’s made by cold smoking, a technique used to preserve meat, and is now considered a renowned delicacy worldwide. To this day, this refined preservation method is employed often, in hopes of storing meat for a long time without it going bad. Not only does smoking kill harmful bacteria, it also gives a wonderful smoky flavor to your dishes. There are many ways to smoke, but here’s a very simple way to elevate your cooking game to the next level.

My favorite smoking method is to cold smoke, which I love doing with different foods, but more particularly with fish. To cold smoke, you must first understand that it is not a source of heat that will cook your meat; instead, the smoke penetrates each layer and slowly cooks it. Hence why it’s called cold smoking. This method requires the ambient temperature to be favorable. Fall to early winter and spring seasons are ideal as it’s not too warm outside. If the smoking isn’t done in a smoker, you can use a barbecue with a large grid. The reason for this is that we want the food to be as far as possible from the heat source while it’s smoking.

These are the very simple steps I use when cold smoking which have never let me down:

If cold smoking meat or fish, you must brine your piece in a mix of your favorite spices and salt for at least 12 hours in the fridge, to cure the meat and stop bacterial growth. The quantity of spice depends on the size of your filet. Make sure your filet is well covered with your favorite rubs and tightly wrapped in your fridge, to contain the delicious yet “fishy” smell.  When ready to go, gently rinse your fillet and pat dry. If you are planning to cold smoke nuts, cheese or fruits, you can skip this step.

  • Check the outside temperature! To cold smoke, you must make sure that it’s between 4 and 15 degrees Celsius. Your smoking session will last 3 to 4 hours, so do it under the warm midday sun or after sundown to stay within that temperature range as much as possible.
  • Fill the pellet holder of your choice with enough pellets to fulfill a 3-4 hour smoking session and light the pellets on fire. Wait until the pellets have burned a few centimetres with a strong flame, then blow it off to keep the smoke going. You want to make sure the fire is strong and will work its way through after you set it up and forget about it. Too close to the fire? Don’t hesitate to wear gloves.   
  • Place the smoking pellets at the opposite end of your fish inside your BBQ, either under or on your heat deflectors.
  • After making sure you have good airflow and that your BBQ is cold smoking, close the lid and let the flavor-infused smoke slowly cook your meat.
  • For a milder flavor, smoke your meat or fish for 3 to 4 hours, and up to 10-12 hours if you prefer a very intense flavor. No matter what, you’re sure to enjoy a delicious and simple dish!

Remember that smoking with maple, cherry, and apple woods will render a softer smoky taste while hickory, oak, or mesquite will  make it more pronounced.

I love this simple recipe on any given day. Smoked salmon is great on salad, can be enjoyed with a cream cheese bagel the next day, or as a topping on white pizza. Well… that’s another recipe!

Enjoy your barbecue at this time of the year and get smoking!

For more recipes and barbecuing techniques, visit www.bbq-experts.com.