Sweet, smoky salmon "candy" is like a juicier version of jerky. You don’t need any fancy equipment—just an oven and a wire rack. We’ve replaced regular salt with smoked salt in the overnight brine, which gives it a similar flavor to what you’d get from a wood smoker. Found in most supermarkets or online, look for smoked salt that is produced naturally and has an appealing flavor profile like alderwood, hickory, maple, or applewood. This method is great for all types of salmon, but is especially terrific with rich, fatty king and flavorful sockeye.
1 pound salmon, such as king, coho, or sockeye Available In Our Premium Subscription Box
¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons smoked salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
Prep the Salmon
Pat the salmon dry and remove any pin bones but do not remove the skin. Cut the salmon crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices.
Brine the Salmon
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, smoked salt, pepper, and ½ cup water, stirring to dissolve completely. Transfer the brine to a sealable bag or a non-reactive airtight container and add the salmon. Press out the air, then seal and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer it sits, the more candied it will be.
Dry the Salmon
Drain the salmon and pat dry. Arrange the salmon on a lightly oiled wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for 1 hour. The surface should be tacky.
Preheat the oven to 180°F. Cook the salmon until caramelized and firm, about 1 hour, brushing once or twice with maple syrup while cooking. Let cool completely, then serve.
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Pair It Up
A crisp and refreshing lager balances the sweetness of the maple–brown sugar brine. For wine drinkers, a bright, citrusy sauvignon blanc is just the ticket.
Level It Up
The smoky-sweet brine holds many possibilities for flavorings. Add a sprig of rosemary and strips of lemon zest, or fennel seeds and strips of orange zest for a Mediterranean flair. Or add cumin seeds and chipotle powder for an extra spicy Southwestern kick.
Change It Up
Fold into scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast, or bake onto flatbreads with brie and chopped scallions for a hearty snack.