BBQ Blockbuster: Bourbon-Cured Smoked Alaska Salmon with Mustard Sauce and Caper Berries by the BBQ Lads
A smoked side of salmon pumps up any BBQ, particularly using salmon from Alaska. It’s a sure way to impress and get heads turning. The vibrant red colour of the sockeye salmon with a light bourbon cure, set in a smoky BBQ will have your guest’s appetite bursting. Just 30 mins in the smoker will give you an evenly cooked through, flaky fish delight. Serve it with fried capers, caper berries, grilled lemon and a tangy mustard sauce to get the party started.
Bourbon-Cured Smoked Alaska Salmon
1kg (2 ¼ lb) Alaska sockeye salmon fillet (with skin)
¼ cup (2oz) [curing] plus 1 tablespoon bourbon [drying]
¾ cup (6oz) dark brown sugar
½ cup (4oz) kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup (4oz) plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Thick cut lemon slices
1 tablespoon fried capers
Pickled caper berries
The first step is to cure the sockeye salmon overnight in advance of the BBQ! Mix the brown sugar, salt, ¼ cup of the bourbon, the lemon zest, orange zest, and black pepper up to a nice smooth consistency. Drizzle a-quarter of the mixture into a dish that is large enough to hold the salmon fillet flat and then skin side down, gently place the salmon fillet onto the mixture in the dish. Baste the remaining bourbon mixture over the salmon ensuring to cover it entirely. Gently cover the dish with cling film and refrigerate overnight for up to 14 hours.
Next is to dry the salmon in preparation for the BBQ. Carefully take the salmon from the dish and gently rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the bourbon sugar mixture. Gently dry with paper towels and place the salmon on baking paper. Brush the top of the salmon with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon bourbon then refrigerate the salmon, uncovered, for around 2 hours before the BBQ.
Now it’s on to the BBQ and “hot” smoke the salmon. Prepare your BBQ for low heat indirect cooking 90-120°C (200 -250°F) and once the BBQ is at temperature the salmon can be placed skin side down onto the grill. Add selected wood chunks for flavour if required on your charcoal grill or in my case on the pellet smoker, I used Academy Blend.
Cook until the salmon is firm and golden brown to where internal temperature is 62°C (145°F). This will take around 45 minutes to 1 hour depending how often you take a peek! When ready, remove the salmon from the BBQ and rest for around 5 minutes, uncovered if ambient temperature is moderate to warm.
Serve with fried capers and pickled caper berries, and Tangy Mustard Sauce, and don’t forget a few snap shots for your Instagram!
Tangy Mustard Sauce
5 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoon fine caster sugar
3/4 cup (6oz) rapeseed oil
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Mix 5 parts Dijon mustard with 1 part wholegrain mustard and 2 parts fine caster sugar and blend until the sugar is dissolved.
Slowly drip in rapeseed oil to emulsify. Take your time to add a slow stream of oil to ensure the oil is blended in and the sauce thickens.
When all the oil is combined and you have a thick creamy consistency, blend in 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar.