This Moroccan-inspired version of a traditional smoked salmon steak is a treat for the palate; the key ingredient is a blend of spices called Ras el Hanout or “head of store” – this spice blend is considered the best a merchant has to offer to customers. It is a combination of over 30 different herbs and can include Grains of Paradise, lavender, turmeric, ajawan seeds, kalajeera, ginger, galangal, oris root, rose buds, monk’s pepper, cinnamon and more! (Ahem, the blend is claimed to have aphrodisiac properties.) Used mostly during cold seasons by locals, it is used typically in Moroccan stews called tagines.
2 Salmon steaks, skin on
2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons smoker wood chips (cherry or alder wood preferred)
Stovetop or outdoor smoker
Prepare the smoker:
Place the wood chips in the bottom of the stovetop smoker. Cover the drip pan with foil and replace in the smoker. Place the rack on top of the drip pan. Set aside.
[Chef’s Note: If you don’t have a stovetop smoker, follow the instructions for your particular smoker. If you don’t have a smoker at all, you can simulate the smoker by making a packet of out of 2 sheets of foil to enclose the wood chips. Punch a few holes with a fork on top of the packet and place it in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place a roasting rack into the roasting pan. After placing the salmon on the rack, cover the roasting pan with two layers of foil to seal.]
Prepare the salmon:
Mix the Ras el Hanout with the light brown sugar. Rub gently into the top of the salmon steaks. Place the steaks on the smoker rack and close the smoker. Place the smoker on the stove over medium heat and smoke the salmon for about 20 minutes or until it begins to flake. Let rest for 5 minutes, then remove the steaks from the smoker and serve.
The spicy nature of this salmon pairs well with a Moroccan-inspired side dish of couscous with dried cranberries and almond slices.
This salmon is just as delicious broiled. Place salmon steaks about 6” from the broiler element or flame and broil for about 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes. The Ras el Hanout rub also works well on other types of mild-tasting fish such as red snapper and fillet of sole.
Recipe and photo by Lia Soscia