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July 2001 Issue
Alaskan Smoke Baked Salmon
by Philip R. Gantt
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Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

I am writing this column prompted by several requests from people who have sampled my Alaska smoke baked salmon since my return from Alaska last week.

I spent 5 days in Alaska over the Memorial Day weekend with David and Loisos and it was one of the most enjoyable trips ever. Even though I thought I was going to freeze in the rain on the first day of fishing, I finally landed a salmon. My lips were cracking from the wind burn, but it was still a great day. On our second day of fishing, I got sunburned! It was about 73 degrees and so clear that one could see for hundreds of miles. I didn't catch a salmon worth keeping, but Dave got one that day. Loizos caught the most fish, 3 salmon (1 released), 2 steelhead, and a couple of Dollie Varden char.

On Monday, my dear friend Deana, a photojournalist, guided us down the peninsula to Homer. We stopped at several locations to take photographs. She is an excellent contact if you consider going to Alaska one day for fishing, hunting or simply sightseeing. Here is her URL in case you are interested:

Tuesday, we drove to Seward and went on a tour boat with Kenai Fjords Tours. We got to see pods of orca, gray whales, puffins and a variety of other birds, and land mammals. We also witnessed a glacier calving large chucks of ice into the sea.

The recipe presented this month is from my yet to be published cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests.

Now, on to the recipe!


Alaskan Smoke Baked Salmon

The most notable difference between Alaskan king salmon as compared to king salmon from the lower 48, is the deep rich red color. California salmon tends to be more of an orange color. Of course, much depends on the variety of salmon and their diet. Alaskan Sockeye has a very deep red color. In general, Alaskan salmon tends to have a richer flavor than salmon from warmer waters. It is also higher in essential oils and omega-3 compounds that are good for health.

This is, perhaps, one of the best salmon dishes that you will ever eat! This can be prepared in a smoker or in any type of covered grill (Weber kettle, etc.). Just be certain that the fish is not placed directly over the source of heat, wood or coals. Rather, place the fish well above the heat in a smoker, or off to one side on a conventional grill. Charcoal can be used as a source of heat, but you will want to have the oak bark and corn cobs ready for smoke when the fish is placed on the grill. If oak wood is readily available, you can use the oak for a fire instead of bark on coals.

  • ½ cup salt.
  • ½ cup brown sugar.
  • 3 cups water.
  • 4 lbs. salmon fillets or steaks.
  • 3 dried corn cobs.
  • oak bark or wood.
Mix the salt, water and brown sugar in a large container for brining the salmon. Make sure that the mixture is well stirred before placing the salmon into the liquid. Allow the fish to marinate in this mixture for 45 minutes. Once the fire has been prepared, place the salmon, skin side down, on the rack, add the corn cobs and bark to the coals, and cover. You will want the smoke to be very warm. After 45 minutes, remove the salmon from the racks and allow to cool, or serve warm. The salmon should be moist and succulent with a very nice smoke flavor that does not overpower the flavor of the fish.

Smoke baked salmon will last for about 2 weeks under refrigeration, and it can be frozen to store indefinitely. In my house it generally doesn't last long enough for freezing. I prefer to vacume seal it, however it can also be stored in zip lock bags.

Serving suggestions: Serve as an appetizer with crackers, or you can eat it with bagels and cream cheese. It can also be served as a main course when warm. Don't reheat it however, as this will make the product dry and overcooked. It is very good served at room temperature. You can also make a dip with this fish by blending it with cream cheese and sour cream. I like this recipe as finger food or as a nutritious snack. Try this one. I think you will like it!


  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1.5 hours

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