Sous Vide “Raw” Instant-Smoked Salmon
Sous Vide “Raw” Instant-Smoked Salmon

Sous Vide “Raw” Instant-Smoked Salmon

Raw Smoked Salmon-1
Low and slow… it’s true for sous vide, and its definitely true for smoking.  And, if you live in Seattle, you probably know that one of the worlds best smoked foods is salmon.  Smoked salmon has a wonderfully rich and concentrated flavor, but unfortunately it also has the texture of wet leather.  For this recipe, I used a Smoking Gun – a remarkable little device that creates a cold, concentrated smoke that can be captured in a container, or in this case, a vacuum bag [Disclosure: the Smoking Gun I used was a demo unit provided by PolyScience.]  The result: instant smoky flavor.  Then, we delicately cook the salmon to just above rare, which retains the fish’s buttery texture.

Total kitchen time: 25 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 2 salmon fillets, about 15mm thick
  • 1 tsp. smoked salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat your water bath to 45.5°C.  [Note: Consuming undercooked fish blah blah blah.  Some people will cook their salmon at 39°C, but that’s a little rare even for my taste.  If you’re squeamish, crank up the temp to 52°C.]
  2. Remove the skin from the salmon fillets (reserve for frying, if you want.)  Divide the salt and pepper between the fillets and coat both sides.  Place the fillets, together or individually) into vacuum seal bags, but don’t seal them yet.
  3. Prepare an ice bath large enough for the salmon fillets in their bags.
  4. Load a Smoking Gun with hickory wood shavings.  Insert the exhaust hose into the open end of the bag and fold over the open edge to partially seal the bag.


  5. Turn on the Smoking Gun and light the wood chips.  Smoke the entire bowl into the bag, retaining as much smoke as possible. 
  6. Holding the open end of the bag up, submerge the bag into the ice bath for a few seconds to condense the remaining smoke.  Seal the open end in the vacuum sealer.
  7. Cook the salmon in the water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove and serve.

Given the soft texture of the salmon, I thought it would be good to pair it with something crunchy.  I fried kale leaves in grapeseed oil for a few seconds per side (look out for major oil splatter!) and roasted asparagus with olive oil and rosemary salt.  I also fried the leftover salmon skin until it was slightly crispy and used it to wrap the asparagus.  This is one of my new favorite salmon preparations, and I can’t wait to see what else I can instant-smoke!


  1. Gael

    Just wanted to say I like your site a lot. I usually don’t care for a lot of “foodie” sites because it seems all they do is wax poetically about some cookbook or chef and the recipes are normally copies of their books. But you seem to only do original recipes. Something that there isn’t enough of in the food blogging world.

    BTW, I’m a grad student in physics that would have been a pastry chef in an alternate world. The sub-section of geek+chef isn’t an isolated community.

  2. Gael

    I’ve had a fantasy of charging walnuts and cracking them near light speed. But I’m more of a condensed matter physicist. I do have a lab water circulator which I’ve been staring at for awhile. I’m seeing what lab protocol I’d be violating if I make something sous vide in there. In a previous lab I had some liquid nitro access which I used for various instant ice cream purposes. I have a vacuum chamber but I don’t know what to do with that food wise. I think I remember something about marination being more effective in a vacuum but I wouldn’t know how I would begin to do that while trying to avoid boiling the marinade at room temperature and possibly freezing it by accident.

  3. Collin

    So, I’m curious as to why this works.

    How does the smoking “process” occur here? When the vacuum sealer sucks out all the air, doesn’t it also suck out any remaining smoke?

  4. @Collin The longer you let the salmon sit in the bag before vacuum sealing, the more smoke flavor it will retain. But, since there is a lot of smoke being blown into the bag before it’s sealed, the surface of the salmon holds onto the flavor. It won’t taste like salmon that’s been smoked for an afternoon, but it does add a depth of flavor. One way to make the smoke flavor more intense is to seal the smoke in the bags without vacuuming out the air, and let the salmon sit overnight in a tray of ice in the refrigerator.

  5. simulacrum

    hmm i prefer cold smoked salmon.. so that means brined or dry cured salmon smoked for 8 hours at 21C or below. Getting cold smoke would usually mean separating the smoke generator from the smoking chamber via a long pipe so the smoke is cold by the time it reaches the salmon; or buying an expensive smoking gun. I’ve found a really elegant and inexpensive solution.. i highly recommend this: fill it with hardwood sawdust and it produces cold smoke for 8-10 hours. I ordered one and it arrived just as my gravlax had finished curing so I just bunged it in an unlit weber bbq with the proQ overnight. got up in the morning to find the thing full of oak smoke and the proq still smoking! The result was much better than store bought smoked salmon! Here’s a good page on the procedure:
    as always.. use fresh ingredients, sterile technique and common sense to avoid getting sick.

  6. We know that if we’re trying to eat a more healthy diet, chicken is a great source for protein, and if prepared properly, is low in fat. Do you have problems keeping chicken moist, and flavorful? Sometimes, no matter how you cook it, the chicken comes out dry. Did you know that there is a method for cooking chicken at the exact right temperature each time, and it leaves the moisture in?

  7. Wayne

    Quite late to the party – just got a Breville Smoking Gun for Christmas. Would a water displacement method work to vacuum seal the bag and keep more smoke in? I’m thinking you could leave the smoking hose in the corner of a zip top bag as you submerged it, and only pull the hose when it was time to seal at the very end?

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