This whisky-scented smoked salmon combines the virtues of hot smoking and cedar planking. The dry brine in a sugar-salt mixture seasons the fish wonderfully. Cedar planks are available at grill stores and cookware shops. For gas grilling, place drained, soaked wood chips in a disposable aluminum pan directly on the burner of your grill.
Combine whisky and salmon in a large zip-top plastic bag. Refrigerate 1 hour, turning occasionally. Drain; pat salmon dry.
Combine brown sugar, pepper, salt, and rind in a large bowl. Place one-third of sugar mixture in bottom of an 11 x 7inch baking dish. Add fish; top evenly with remaining sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 4 hours. Rinse fish well; pat dry.
Soak grilling plank in water 1 hour; drain. Soak wood chips in water 30 minutes; drain.
Remove grill rack; set aside. Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating both sides to medium and leaving center with no heat. Maintain temperature at medium (325°). Toss wood chips on coals. Place grill rack on grill. Place salmon, skinned-side down, on plank in center of hot rack, away from the heat. Cover; cook 30 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with cracked peppercorns and lemon slices, if desired.
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I followed the recipe as written and it came out bland. The final step was very poorly written. I should have gone with my own knowledge of working with cedar planks, because using the written instructions only confused me. Before that, though, there was not enough salt. A normal cure is 2 parts sugar to 1 part salt. Using 1 cup brown sugar to 1 tablespoon salt left the salmon too dry and insufficiently seasoned. If I make this again, I will go with what I know and modify the recipe appropriately. Otherwise, I'll go back to Steve Raichlen's other smoke salmon recipe I like.
Fantastic! Made exactly as directed. Served slightly smaller portions than suggested (2-3 oz of salmon per person) along with roasted root vegetables (carrots, red potatoes, and red onion) and homemade mustard-creme fraiche sauce. Grilled asparagus would also be a great accompaniment. Plan to make again to serve to company.