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Tea-Smoked Salmon with Citrus-Cucumber Relish


Serves six.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 106

A quick soak in dark soy sauce gives this salmon a beautiful color. If you want extra crunch, try adding diced jícama or water chestnuts to the relish.

Extra: To learn more, watch a video series where Robert Danhi demonstrates his tea-smoking technique.

For the salmon marinade
  • 1/4 cup Chinese dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest (from one of the oranges in the relish, below)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Six 6-oz. center-cut, skin-on salmon fillets
For the relish
  • 2 Valencia oranges
  • 1 large pink grapefruit
  • 1 cup finely diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
For the tea-smoked salmon
  • 1/4 cup whole-leaf oolong or jasmine tea
  • 1/4 cup rice, preferably jasmine
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 2 Tbs. crushed cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds (preferably a mixture of black and white)
Marinate the salmon

In a 9x13-inch glass dish, whisk the soy sauce, sugar, orange zest, and red pepper flakes. Add the salmon and turn to coat. Cover with plastic and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Make the relish

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from one of the oranges into 1x2-inch strips, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Set aside.

Cut off enough of the tops and bottoms of the oranges to expose a circle of flesh. Slice off the peel in strips from top to bottom. Working over a medium bowl, cut the segments free from the membranes, letting them fall into the bowl. Cut the grapefruit into segments using the same method.

Gently fold the cucumber, mint, ginger, lime zest, sugar, sesame oil, and 1/4 tsp. salt into the citrus. Season to taste with more salt.

Smoke the salmon

Put the tea, rice, sugar, star anise, cinnamon, and reserved orange zest strips in the center of a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (If using thinner foil, use 2 or 3 layers.) Fold the foil loosely to form a flat packet.

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. Clean and oil the grill grate; set aside. Set the tea-smoking packet directly on the hot coals or on top of a metal burner shield. Put the grate back on the grill and close the lid. On a charcoal grill, leave the vents partially open and wait for smoke to rise from the vents. On a gas grill, wait 10 minutes, then open the lid to check for smoke. If there is none, close the lid and check again in a few minutes.

Drain the salmon and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the salmon lightly with the oil.

Arrange the salmon skin side up on the grill grate so that it’s not directly over the packet, and then close the lid. Smoke the salmon, flipping once, until cooked to medium doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Serve with the citrus relish, sprinkled with the scallions and sesame seeds.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360, Fat (kcal): 15, Fat Calories (g): 140, Saturated Fat (g): 2.5, Protein (g): 40, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5, Carbohydrates (mg): 14, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 6, Sodium (g): 1010, Cholesterol (g): 105, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Romulo Yanes

This is as easy as your basic grilled salmon, but has a power-boost secret, with an amazing flavor from the smoking packet. Watch the video, it is so easy-- and the results are outstanding, moist perfectly cooked salmon with great flavor.

This is one of the best salmon recipes I've found! Great flavor! And since I love it so much, during winter time (when it's too cold to use the grill) I used my cast iron grill pan and cooked the salmon in the oven. I put the packet in the oven at a high temp, after a few minutes I lowered the temperature, put the salmon on one side of the pan, put the packet on the other and put a piece of aluminum foil over to ensure that the salmon captures the smokiness of the Asian flavors from the packet...and done!

Wonderful recipe. Used my stovetop smoker again on a rainy Monday, I haven't used it this much in twenty years! The contrast of the smoke against the citrusy sweetness of the salad make this recipe one I will use again. A smaller portion of this on some endive wouldl make a nice first course. Served with black rice sushi salad-black rice, the rest of the cucumber, sesame chili oil, rice vinegar, toasted nori and a little pickled ginger.


Fabulous. We eat salmon weekly, but agreed this was the best we've ever made. Couldn't find the dark soy so used regular soy sauce. Served with sauteed spinach and jasmine rice.

I made this salmon for a celebration dinner last night and it was probably the tastiest salmon all of us have ever had!!! This recipe's a keeper!!

I made this for my family last night and I thought it was wonderful. I was surprised by how much smokey flavor was imparted by the little foil packet of tea and spices. It was delicious. I would have enjoyed a little spice in the citrus-cucumber relish and would probably add a bit of jalapeno or serrano pepper to it if I make it again. It was easy to prepare and seems pretty fool-proof as long as you are patient enough to get the smoke going before you put the fish on the grill. I served it with basmati rice and soy-glazed carrots on the side.

Gorgeous and delicious. I couldn't find "dark soy sauce" so I reduced 1/2 cup of Tamari to 1/4 cup and added a T of corn syrup. Worked great. I was a bit skeptical about the need for the relish but it adds a lovely flavor and texture to the salmon--don't leave it out! Great for a party.

One of the best recipes ever. Served it with roasted small potatoes and baby okra.

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