Kezza’s Smoked Salmon

Over the past 20-or-so years I would hate to think how many kilos of salmon I have smoked! It is a guess but would be in the realms of 100s and 100s and over that time I have served it to some top chefs here in New Zealand and across the ditch and all have given it high praise.

We have recently added smoked salmon to the menu at our barbecue restaurant business as an alternative to those that may not gravitate towards traditional smoked meats like brisket, pulled pork, ribs or lamb and it is proving a winner.

Smoked salmon is a relatively complicated process, so let’s get stuck in.

Total time: Approx. 1 hour


  • Salmon (fillet)
  • Natural Maple Syrup (the real stuff)
  • Rum & Que Intensify
  • Garlic Salt
  • Parsley


  • Smoker capable of “indirect” cooking
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Coal Briquettes
  • Lump Coal
  • Pohutukawa smoking wood
  • Pin bone pliers (a fine needle nose will do)
  • Fillet knife
  • Grease proof baking paper




  1. Set up your smoker for indirect cooking and light up around 15 briquettes.
  2. If not “pin boned” already, you will need to use pin bone pliers and identify any rows of bones present and remove them from the fillet. I use the plier to grasp the bone, then with a gentle “pulling-shaking” motion lift the bones out.
  3. Sprinkle a fine coating of Rum & Que Intensify to the fillet or portion, and gently rub for even coverage.
  4. Apply maple syrup for an even coverage and again gently rub on to fillet.
  5. Sprinkle a small amount of garlic salt and set aside.
  6. Add the lit coals to your smoker (vents wide open) and add the pohutukawa smoking wood directly on top of coals.
  7. Lay down a suitable size piece of grease proof paper directly on to the grill but away from the heat (indirect) and place your prepared salmon onto the paper – close the lid. You should see a clean “white” smoke leaving the exhaust vent.
  8. After 35mins in, start up a decent amount of lump coal in your chimney and get that “roaring” hot.
  9. After 45mins add the lump coal to your smoker (indirect), sprinkle salmon with parsley for colour and close the lid. You should see a rapid rise in pit temp.
  10. At 1hour check you are happy with the colour of the salmon, the sugars in the maple should have caramelised and look divine.

Remove the salmon from the smoker and serve immediately as part of a meal or on a platter, alternatively cool, refrigerate for later use. Goes great with eggs bene, on bagels with cream cheese, in a salad, in a dip, in sushi….basically get creative – smoked salmon just works!!

Until next time – keep the fires burning.

Words & Photos:  Kerren “Kezza” Packer – BBQ Writer