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Hot oak-smoked salmon

Serves 4oak smoked salmon with crimson roasted beetroots dill on a white and blue ceramic dish on a metal table

This is a one of the most straightforward recipes for hot smoking. There are no added flavourings, just salt, sugar and smoke.


  • About 50g (1 ¾oz) fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 4 salmon fillets of an even medium thickness (about 150g/5 ½oz each)
  • 1 tbsp oak sawdust or shavings


  1. Mix the salt with the sugar and sprinkle it evenly on the fish fillets. Refrigerate for 10 minutes (thick steaks can take up to 30 minutes). Rinse the fish under running water, then pat dry and return to the refrigerator for three hours so the salt can permeate better.
  2. Put the sawdust or shavings in the base of a stove-top smoker and insert the drip tray (the little tray underneath the rack that comes with the smoker). Line the drip tray with foil (it makes for easier cleaning, you can just throw the foil away). Put the wire rack on top, arrange the fish on the rack (leaving room around each fillet), then slide the lid on. (Use a wok if you don't have a stove-top smoker.)
  3. Set the smoker over a medium heat. As soon as wisps of smoke start to appear, or you can smell the smoke, reduce the heat to low and smoke the fillets for about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat off and wait until you can’t see any more smoky wisps, then open the smoker and check that the fish is cooked through. It should be opaque and not at all glassy looking. If it isn’t quite cooked through, you can put the heat on again or you can finish the fish off by steaming. You can eat this straight away or wrap it in cling film and, once cool, refrigerate for up to two days. If you want to serve it later and have it hot you can reheat it, wrapped in foil, in a medium oven.

How to use

I usually go the Scandi route with this, serving with roast beetroot (a mixture of crimson and golden beets if you can get them) drizzled with buttermilk, and warm waxy potatoes tossed with dill. Swedes also cook hot-smoked salmon in a gratin with cream and spinach (cook the spinach and squeeze out the moisture, then chop and season).

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