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The Hirshon Scottish Smoked Salmon

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 3 lbs. Atlantic salmon fillet (strongly preferred) or Wild King Salmon (one large or several small), pin bones removed with needle-nosed pliers – feel along the salmon meat with your fingers to find them
  • 1/8 cup, 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons Drambuie or use your favorite whisky
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Your choice of wood smoking pellets


  1. Mix salt, sugars and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Use a pan long enough to hold the fillet without doubling over the tail. You can cut the fillet in half if you don’t have a large enough pan.
  3. Spread half of the salf/sugar/pepper mixture on the plastic wrap in the shape of the salmon. It should be ¼” thick.
  4. Rub salmon meat with ⅛ cup Drambuie.
  5. Place salmon on top of the mixture and top with remaining mixture, which should also be ¼ inch thick. (The cure should extend ½ inch beyond the edges of the fish on each side.)
  6. If using multiple fillets, make sure every surface of fish is covered in the mixture.
  7. Tightly double wrap the salmon with plastic and foil.
  8. Cure in the refrigerator for 13 hours. Remove the fillet from the pan and wash the salt off the fillet with cold running water.
  9. Wash out the pan of salt and fill the pan ¾ of the way with fresh, cold water mixed with a generous ¼ cup of Drambuie.
  10. Place the fillet in the water and put back in the refrigerator for one hour. This controls the salinity of the salmon and it also desalts the outer surface while driving the salt through the fish to the center.
  11. Unwrap and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  12. Pat salmon with paper towels then place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity (this is called the pellicle and is an absolutely necessary step!). A fan can and should be used to speed the process.
  13. Now comes the fun part – cold smoking. Fill pellet smoker with ½ the mixed wood pellets, sprinkle on smoking spice then cover with remaining pellets. Light the pellets, close lid. Be sure you have a digital thermostat probe inside the smoker!
  14. Cold-smoke salmon at 70 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. Do not let the temperature go above 70!
  15. Carefully remove fish and gently rub 2 tablespoons of Drambuie onto the meat. Wrap in plastic tightly and place in the fridge overnight to mellow out the smoke. Slice at an angle as thin as possible starting at the head end at about 45 degrees.
  16. Make sure you keep this always refrigerated!
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours

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