the recipe: Traeger Smoked Salmon
the smoker: Traeger Ironwood 885
the time: about an hour
the full nelson: the best thing I’ve smoked in a Traeger: freakin’ fish
Traeger Day is fast becoming the biggest food holiday the internet has cooked up. Last year I joined Team Traeger when they generously sent me a grill. Perks of the life folks. I started off getting into ribs and realized that even with a sophisticated piece of machinery like a wifi pellet grill, smoking meat is still a craft that takes time to master, whether your burning wood or pellets.
So when this year’s Traeger Day rolled in, I thought hard about what I wanted to do for the big day. Loads of Traeger heads would be going the traditional brisket and ribs route. Me? I guess I wanted to think outside the box and not spend 4-12 hours smoking meat that would still end up being a distant second to the top shelf BBQ that’s being served up in my hood of East Austin.
And that’s when it hit me: Smoked Salmon in a Traeger.
My long time pal and Food Network star, Jeff Mauro, just released a killer cookbook called “Come on Over” and that’s where I found my recipe. Technically you should use a cedar plank, but alas my grocery store was out. Turns out it didn’t matter because by cooking the salmon at 225 degrees with the Super Smoke setting, your salmon will indeed get the kiss of sweet smokey flavor.
Mix the soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, honey and crushed chili pepper in a bowl. Baste the salmon, rub with salt and stick it in the fridge for an hour. I went a little light on the marinade. Make sure you reserve some for basting while the salmon cooks, about every 15 minutes.
About 30 minutes into the cure, you’re gonna wanna fire up the Traeger. Now I did not use a cedar plank but you certainly could. If you do, definitely get that plank soaking about an hour or two in advance. Jeff’s recipe calls for the smoker to be set at 250. Since I have an Ironwood 885(thx Traeger) I went for 225 degrees where you can use this Super Smoke feature. I mean why not right?
Get that salmon on there and let the Traeger do it’s thing. I used a temp probe to monitor the cook. I aimed for 135 degrees. As much as I love a medium rare salmon, I wanted the color to kick in which means a longer cook. About an hour into it you should get something like this:
Compared to cooking ribs, the cook time on salmon feels like no time at all. I want to say this took about an hour but the real wait came in getting the thickest part of the salmon to 130 degrees. You might want to consider a center cut if you like the salmon at a uniform evenness.
With an overall Asian/Japanese feel I went with Gom-ae, a Japanese spinach salad and some soba noodles. The Soba noodles(original recipe here) were basically boiled noodles that get shocked in cold water and then sauteed with sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and green onion. The Go-mae is a little more interesting:
Go-mae was a go to dish when I would hit up the Izakayas in Los Angeles. These small plates restaurants were Japanese food 101 for me. This spinach salad was a staple and this recipe is super easy to make. Blanch the spinach, rinse in cold water and squeeze the water out. Mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss the spinach in. Don’t low ball the spinach either, once you boil it, you’re gonna end up with way less than you think.
Not your average Traeger grill dinner right here. This meal was a straight up mash up of BBQ/Smoked meats and Izakaya/Japanese fare. And it totally worked. Making salmon ian the Traeger has always been a rewarding experience and this ended up being the best smoked salmon I’ve made.
Hard to say but I know which one is easier, healthier and damn tasty. This was even just another farmed salmon filet from the Supermarket. Marbled for sure but I can only go up with a higher quality filet. Again, Jeff’s recipe calls for a Cedar Plank but I ended up with salmon with strong smoke flavor and a crisp skin.
Guys . . . you gotta try this. As I write this I’m still floored about how well this turned out. Go salmon on the Traeger . . . you won’t regret it.