My birthday present to myself was a new Big Green Egg, something that I had been fantasizing and longing for, for the last year and a half. The Big Green Egg is a kamado cooker, or simply a ceramic all-in-one cooker that can smoke, grill (and sear at really high temperatures), and bake. You can even recreate a “wood-fired” pizza oven-like effect on this thing because it retains heat so well!
My partner has been a little less enthusiastic about the cooker. It has been tough trying to convince my partner the idea of buying a semi-expensive the BGE, especially when we have a lot of house projects that we’d like to accomplish… replacing the carpets with laminate flooring, updating our bathrooms and kitchen, and redesigning our backyard to be more low-water maintenance. And not to mention, my much anticipated hospital bill, which I still haven’t received from my recent hospitalization in February. So I understand her concerns for spending money on the BGE when we have so much more to do. I’ve mentioned the BGE to her more frequently these last couple of weeks than I ever had before. I even tried to entice her by showing her videos on YouTube and explaining to her how it can even bake. Whatever I did [I think it was the ability to bake on the BGE that sold her] to convince her worked because she was driving me to the only retailer that sells BGEs on my birthday!
After watching the instructional DVD, and perusing through the numerous BGE forums for the do’s and don’ts, I finally mustered up the courage to “break it in” so-to-speak. I guess you can say I was slightly intimidated by the cooker. I don’t really know why the BGE was so intimidating, or if it was just me being scared of change and stepping out of my comfort zone of the gas grill. But after much debate with myself on which recipe to try first, I settled on smoking salmon. It would be the perfect recipe to try as it would give me the opportunity to smoke something [something that I had always wanted to do], and to play around with the temperature control [which is supposedly really easy according to the BGE manufacturer, but I didn’t think it was that easy].
The salmon came out beautifully after three hours of smoking. I flaked a little piece for my partner to try, and well, let’s just say that she is a new BGE convert :)
1.5 pound slab of fresh salmon filet, with skin on
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup kosher or sea salt (non-iodized)
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
In a small mixing bowl, combine the all the ingredients above and mix thoroughly. Liberally pack the salmon filet with the brown sugar mixture. Place in a shallow glass baking dish, and cover tightly with saran wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
Rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the brine. Dry the salmon with a paper towel, and allow it to dry in the refrigerator, uncovered. It should dry for a couple of hours to develop the pellicle (shiny skin) on the surface of the fish.
Fire up your smoker per the manufacturer’s instructions and you favorite wood chips [I used alder; hickory or mesquite would be too potent for seafood] to around 180 to 220 degrees F. The salmon will be ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
Remove it from the heat and devour it right away, or vacuum seal it so that you have it on hand for a while. The latter may be difficult because you might finish it before you even get to package it away.