Hot Smoked, Rum Soaked Salmon with Mango Salsa

Smoking salmon is easier than you think – all you need is a hooded barbecue and a little patience for the curing process. This dish is a winner is you’re having friends for lunch or dinner, as it can be fully prepared the day before. Quantities can easily be increased and this method can be used to smoke other oily fish varieties such as ocean trout, mackerel, tuna and swordfish. The Mango Salsa pairs wonderfully with the smoked salmon, but if you’re feeling lazy garnish with finger lime pearls, currently in season and available at Noosa Farmers Market.

Ingredients (serves 4):
600g salmon fillets
1/3 cup dark rum (or you could use whisky or bourbon)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls of wood chips (seafood mix or apple are best), soaked in cold water for 1 hour

Mango Salsa
1 large mango, cut into 1cm dice
½ small red onion, finely diced
1-2 bird’s eye chilli’s, seed removed and finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt

1. Run your fingers over the top of the salmon fillet, feeling for bones. Pull out any you may find with tweezers (your fishmonger can do this for you).
2. Place the salmon in a dish just large enough to hold them. Pour over the rum and marinate for 15 minutes, turning the salmon halfway.
3. Drain the salmon and blot dry with paper towels.
4. Make the “cure” by combining the brown sugar, salt and pepper. Place the mixture in the same dish used to marinate the salmon (cleaned and dried), and bury the salmon in it. Cover with plastic food wrap and let stand in the refrigerator for 2½ to 3 hours. The salt in the cure will draw the moisture out of the salmon.
5. Meanwhile, make the salsa by placing the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well.
6. Pre-heat a kettle-style or hooded barbeque to medium-high heat for indirect grilling (190°C).
7. Rinse the cure off the salmon with cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.
8. Drain the wood chips and use aluminium foil to make 2 parcels. Pierce each parcel several times with a skewer.
9. When the barbeque is ready, put the wood-chip parcels on the charcoal or near the flame if you are using a gas barbeque. Wait 5 minutes or until the chips start to smoke, then place the salmon fillets in the middle of the grill and cover.
10. Smoke for about 20 minutes or until cooked – the salmon is ready when it feels firm and breaks into clean flakes.
11. Serve the salmon with the mango salsa. The salmon can be served either hot, cold or at room temperature, and refrigerated will keep for 3-5 days.

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