Lay salmon filet on cutting board
It is best to separate the thick side from the thin side. Look at the cross section of your fish and decide which part is thick and which is thin and simply cut them apart as shown below.
Further separate the thick and thin sides into strips that are about 1.5 to 2 inches wide.
To make it easy to remove the skin, make vertical cuts through the fish stopping when you reach the skin. Then slide the knife under the fish at about a 10 degree angle to separate the fish from it's skin. Easy peasy!
Once all of the fish is separated from the skin, separate them into groups of 4 or 5 of the same thickness since you will want each skewer to have similar thicknesses of salmon.
This way all of the fish pieces on the same skewer will get done at the same time.
Place 4-5 pieces of salmon onto each skewer. I opted to use two skewers in each one so that I could flip them over easily if I wanted to. This is completely optional but I do recommend it.
Once they are skewered, place them on a pan with a rack to make it easy to carry them out to the smoker.
Note: Be sure to see my tip on using parchment paper in the “Smoking the Salmon” section below.
Brush some olive oil onto the salmon pieces to help the rub to stick and to aid in helping the fish to not stick to the grates or whatever they are laying on.
It's also a great idea to oil the grates or the rack they are laying on to prevent sticking.
Sprinkle a little of my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) on the salmon pieces making sure to hit the top sides and bottom for maximum flavor.
You are looking for about 30-40% coverage which means you are not trying to cover the salmon up like you would on ribs but just get a good sprinkle on it.
You can use whatever smoker you have and as long as you can keep it around 225°F (107°C), you will be fine.
If you happen to be using a pellet smoker, be sure to read my 9 tips for using a pellet smoker
Get the smoker set up, fired up and ready to go and once it's holding the goal temperature, you are ready to smoke.
Place the salmon skewers on an oiled smoker grate (to help it not to stick) or use my parchment paper trick below:
Tip: lay the salmon on pieces of parchment paper instead of directly on the smoker grates. It completely eliminates the sticking problem.
To make sure the paper does not block the flow of smoke, cut the paper into strips about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide and place one under each individual skewer.
Be sure to leave about ½ inch between each strip of paper. This allows the smoke to flow properly and still works great at keeping the fish from sticking.
Let the salmon smoke cook for about 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the thickness of the salmon or until it reaches 135°F (57°C)* in the center of the fish.
Temperature is very important when smoking meat so you really need to invest in a good meat thermometer if you don't already have one.
The Thermapen ONE is a great thermometer to have especially for things like salmon where you may not want to leave the thermometer in the whole time but you want to check it periodically.
The Thermapen is a high quality thermometer used by all of the pros and us backyard guys like them as well.
The cool thing is that it reads in only 1 second and you can quickly and easily check things like salmon to make sure every piece is perfectly done before removing it from the smoker.
About 15 minutes before the salmon is finished, brush on some of my original barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) thinned with a little water, fruit juice, beer or even your favorite soft drink.
I usually mix 1 part liquid to 1 part sauce to make a nice glaze that brushes on easily and adds a lot of flavor.
Serve the salmon skewers right away.. no need to wait around.
- *USDA safe temperature for fish is 145°F (63°C) however, chefs recommend cooking this salmon to a maximum temperature of 135°F (57°C) for best flavor and texture.
- I did not brine or marinate this salmon, but you could if you wanted to. Use my normal brine formula of 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of salt and ¾ cup of brown sugar and place the fish pieces in that for 1 hour. Read more about brining here
- You can also use my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) on this salmon if you want something more savory. In this case, you may also want to skip the glaze as well.