Use center-cut salmon fillets of similar thickness so that they cook at the same rate. The best way to ensure uniformity is to buy a 2.5-3-pound whole center cut fillet and cut it into 6 pieces. Avoid mesquite wood chunks for this recipe. Serve the salmon with lemon wedges or with our "Smoked Salmon Platter" Sauce (recipe follows).
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 (6 to 8 ounce) center-cut skin-on-salmon fillets
2 wood chunks soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained (if using charcoal) or 2 cups wood chips, half of chips soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained (if using gas)
1. Combine sugar and salt in bowl. Set salmon on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle flesh side evenly with sugar mixture. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour. With paper towels, bursh any excess salt and sugar from salmon and blot dry. Return fish on wire rack to refrigerator, uncovered, while preparing grill.
2. a. For a Charcoal Grill: Open bottom vent halfway. Light large chimney starter one-third filled with charcoal briquettes (2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour into steeply banked pile against side of grill. Place wood chunks on top of coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent half-way. Heat grill until hot and wood chunks begin to smoke, about 5 minutes.
2. b. For a Gast Grill: Combine soaked and unsoaked chips. Use large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil to wrap chips into foil packet and cut several vent holes in top. Place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Turn primary burner to high (leave other burners off), cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips begin to smoke, 15 to 25 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium. (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 275 to 300 degrees.)
3. Clean and oil cooking grate. Fold a piece of heavy-duty foil into 18 by 6-inch rectangle. Place foil rectangle over cool side of grill and place salmon pieces on foil, spaced at least 1/2 inch apart. Cover grill (positioning lid vent over fish if using charcoal) and cook until center of thickest part of fillet registers 125 degrees and is still translucent when cut into with paring knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to platter and serve, or allow to cool to room temperature.
"Smoked Salmon Platter" Sauce Makes 1.5 cups
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, plus 1 teaspoon caper brine
1 large hard-cooked egg, chopped fine
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Whisk egg yolk, mustard, and vinegar together in medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified, about 1 minute. Gently fold in capers and brine, hard-cooked egg, shallot, and dill.