This morning there was a surprise waiting for me on the island. The boys had gone out early and caught a salmon from Moosehead Lake!
I have been wanting to salt crust a fish for a while now and I siezed the opportunity. I headed down to the garden and grabbed some thyme and parsley. When I returned to the kitchen I sliced some lemon and stuffed the cavity of the fish with lemon and herbs.
I already had a fire going so I put a cast iron griddle on top of the grate and went back in the kitchen. I poured some salt (ok, a lot of salt) into a bowl and added water until it was the consistency of wet sand.
I made a thin bed of salt on the griddle and the rested the fish on top. The rest of the salt I packed tight over the top of the fish. Then I closed the lid of the grill, making sure the vents were open, and waited.
After about thirty minutes, I opened the lid. The wet salt had been transformed into a thick crust. I easily picked up the entire package with a spatula and transferred it to a large platter. When the guests arrived, they were all curious about what was on the platter. I enjoyed showing the young boy who caught the fish how to crack the salt crust by tapping it with the side of a spoon, revealing the beautiful fish inside.
The skin peeled off effortlessly with the help of a spoon and the flesh underneath was moist, full of flavor and not at all too salty. Everybody was thrilled with the fish and the dramatic presentation. I couldn’t believe how simple and easy it was to prepare and serve. I can’t wait for another fish so I can do this again!
Warning: Smoking is highly addictive. You may become hooked, even after just one time. Proceed at your own risk.
There is something about an open fire and the smell of smoke that people everywhere respond to at an elemental level. Capturing this flavor and feeling is what smoking is all about and it’s not as complicated as you might think. Here is my favorite recipe for smoked chicken wings.
Smoked Chicken Wings with BBQ Cumin Rub
Total time: 2 hours
14-16 Chicken Wings
4 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Cumin
1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
Start a hardwood fire on one side of your grill and let it burn down to coals or fire up your electric smoker.
Meanwhile, whisk together water, salt and sugar until completely dissolved. Soak wings in brine for at least 30 minutes. This will help them retain moisture diring the smoking process.
Combine all ingredients for dry rub and mix well.
Remove wings from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle wings with dry rub and toss to coat. Allow to sit another 30 minutes.
When fire has died down to coals (about one hour) or electric smoker is ready, place wings on grate opposite coals and close lid making sure vents are open.
After 45 minutes, check wings by inserting an instant read thermometer in the thickest part as close to the bone as possible. If the thermometer reads 190 F or above, remove wings and cool. If not, allow to smoke until wings reach 190 F.
Briefly allow to cool and then separate wing from drumette by cutting in half at the joint. Serve as is, drizzle with honey or toss in your favorite sauce.