Rum-Smoked Salmon

COOKING TIME: 15 to 20 minutes
ADVANCE PREPARATION: 4½ hours for curing the fish


  • 1 salmon fillet (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

You’ll Need

  • 4 cups wood chips (preferably alder), soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then drained
  • needle-nose pliers or tweezers


  1. Skin the salmon fillet and remove any bones as shown in Preparing the Fish, Steps 1 through 3. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. Lay the salmon in a baking dish just large enough to hold it and pour the rum over it. Let marinate for 15 minutes, then drain the salmon and blot dry with paper towels. Wipe out the baking dish.
  2. Make the cure: Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix well with your fingers. Spread one third of the cure over the bottom of the baking dish. Lay the salmon on top, skinned-side down, and sprinkle the remaining cure on top, patting it onto the fish with your fingertips. Cover the salmon with plastic wrap and let cure in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  3. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat to medium-high. Rinse the cure off the salmon with cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. When ready to cook, toss 2 cups wood chips on the coals. Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the salmon in the center of the hot grate over the drip pan away from the heat, toss the remaining wood chips on the coals, and cover the grill. Smoke the fish until cooked through, about 20 minutes. To test for doneness, press the top of the salmon with your finger. It should feel firm and break into clean flakes.
  4. Transfer the salmon to a rack to cool. When cool, wrap it well in aluminum foil and refrigerate until cold. Serve cold or at room temperature. Smoked salmon will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 5 days.