Maija’s Hot-Smoked Salmon with Mushroom Sauce

On our way back from Europe recently we spent 2 days with our friends Maija and Nestor who live in Turku, on the south western coast of Finland.

Turku was settled in the 13th century, making it the oldest city in Finland. During our brief stay we visited the town, including the museum and the cathedral and spent an afternoon in a motor launch, meandering through the Turku archipelago which consists over over 20,000 islands. Amazing.

On our last evening Maija served a Finnish speciality: Hot Smoked Salmon with Mushroom Sauce, accompanied by potatoes, green beans and dark bread and butter. Maija used wild mushrooms she had bought at the farmer’s market that morning. I’m not sure what they’re called in English, but any combination of unusual mushrooms would work for this sauce. Any leftover fish and mushroom sauce are nice next day on their own or served with scrambled eggs on toast.

Maija's Hot-Smoked Salmon with Mushroom Sauce1 fillet of salmon, skin on, pin bones removed (about 1.2kg)
Olive oil
Curing mix:
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs coarse salt
Smoking material:
1 cup Jasmine rice
½ cup Jasmine tea
½ cup brown sugar
Mushroom Sauce:
500g mixed mushrooms (shitake, oyster, enokitake) or just ordinary mushrooms will do
50g butter
1 cup cream or sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix sugar and salt. Place salmon in a shallow dish and spread the mixture over both sides, then leave to cure for 2-3 hours. Rinse off the salt and sugar mixture, pat fish dry with paper towels, then leave to air dry for an hour or two.

For this recipe you need a kettle BBQ which uses either burners, coals or heat beads. Remove grill plate, give it a good clean then brush it with oil to prevent fish from sticking. Get the BBQ going and while you’re waiting mix the rice, tea and sugar and put it in one of those shallow foil containers you can buy in supermarkets. Place foil container directly on top of the burners and cover the BBQ with the lid. Brush salmon fillet on both sides with olive oil and place it on the clean grill plate. When BBQ has heated to medium heat and you can smell the aroma of the smoking material, place grill plate onto BBQ, shut the lid and let the salmon cook in the smoke for 15 minutes.

Transfer fish to a large plate and set aside to rest. Serve warm or at room temperature with the Mushroom Sauce, boiled new potatoes, green beans and if liked some dark Scandinavian bread and unsalted butter.

Mushroom Sauce: wipe mushrooms, trim and slice or cut into pieces. Don’t cut them too small as the sauce should have some texture. Heat butter in a large frying pan. Add mushrooms and cook gently, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes, or until softened. Add cream and season. Cook, stirring until cream has reduced and thickened a bit. Serve warm.