Brown Sugar-Cured Sockeye Salmon

Brown Sugar-Cured Sockeye Salmon
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It's tough to improve on gorgeous sockeye salmon from the Northern Pacific, but an aromatic brown sugar spice rub does just that. Dill, mace and allspice add flavorful aromas while brown sugar and salt transform the salmon into a ready-to-serve dish, no cooking necessary! The salmon is ready to eat as-is after five days, but consider quick-smoking it after it cures if you want to add some depth to its flavor. Set up a barbecue grill to cook with medium heat and add a handful of cedar chips to the hot coals. Smoke the salmon until crispy, about 12 minutes, turning once.


  • 4 center-cut sockeye salmon fillets (2 lbs.)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cracked black peppercorns
  • ½ Tbsp. allspice
  • ½ Tbsp. mace
  • 1 Tbsp. dill, freshly chopped
  • Equipment: 1 wire rack, such as the type used for cooling baked goods, 1 sheet pan and fish tweezers or needle-nose pliers


  1. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Pull out any pin bones from the salmon using tweezers or needle-nose pliers.
  2. Mix the sugar, salt, peppercorns, allspice, mace and dill in a bowl and set it aside. Lay one 3-foot long piece of plastic wrap on the work surface.
  3. Lay 2 fillets skin side down on the plastic. The fillets should have about 1” of space between them.
  4. Sprinkle one quarter of the sugar mixture on top of each piece of salmon. Cover the flesh completely. Gently press the mixture into the flesh using a fork.
  5. Fold one fillet onto the other fillet so they are stacked flesh to flesh. Some of the sugar will fall away, but that's fine.
  6. Wrap the salmon with the plastic wrap snugly, but not tightly. The salmon will drain while it cures and the liquid must be able to run from the plastic wrap.
  7. Prepare the remaining two fillets as you did the first two.
  8. Line the sheet pan with paper towels. Set the rack on the sheet pan. Lay the wrapped salmon fillets on the rack. Place a saucer on top of each package of fillets. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator, on the bottom shelf if possible.
  9. Cure the salmon for five days. Change the paper towels each day and clean off the sheet pan.
  10. Unwrap the salmon after five days. Rinse the sugar off the fish with cool running water.
  11. Pat the fillets dry and slice thinly before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
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