• Yield: Serves 4

  • Time: 5 minutes; 1 hour soaking time if using wood chips prep, 10 to 15 minutes grill time cooking, 1 hour and 15 minutes total

It’s no surprise that the richness of salmon takes beautifully to the flavor of wood smoke. But what is a surprise is that you don’t need hours of smoking to bring out those great tastes. In this recipe, we speed up the smoking process by rubbing the fish with Spanish smoked paprika, and then slowly roasting the fish over wood chips. The salmon comes off the grill beautifully burnished and tinged with the scent of wood smoke. Try the fish with our bright green Somalian Bizbaz Sauce.

Cook to Cook: Salmon steaks are easiest to handle on the grill, but steaks or filets of any full-flavored fish can stand in here as well.


  • 1 cup wood chips, soaked for at least an hour in water to cover

  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika 

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar 

  • 4 salmon steaks (about 3 pounds), or the equivalent weight in filets

  • Somalian Bizbaz Sauce (optional)


1. Prepare your grill for a two-zone fire. If using a gas grill, set one burner on high and one burner on low.

2. Combine the smoked paprika, sea salt, and sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Rub both sides of the steaks with the seasoning mix and set aside. 

3. When the coals are medium-hot, oil the grate generously on the side with the lower heat, taking care as the fire will flare up. Toss half the wood chips on the hottest part of the fire and quickly place the salmon steaks on the oiled, lower-heat side. Cover with the lid, making sure that the vents are at least half open. 

4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes. Open the grill and toss the remaining wood chips on the fire, (slipping them through the larger hole by the grill handles if your grill does not have a liftable, hinged grate). Carefully turn the steaks with a spatula, returning them to the coolest side of the grill, cover, and continue cooking another 3 to 4 minutes until the steaks are firm to the touch when pressed in the center. The salmon should still be red, not pink, in the center. Make a small slit with the tip of a knife to check. Do not overcook. Pull from the fire and let rest 5 to 10 minutes.

From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.

Sally Swift
Sally Swift is the managing producer and co-creator of The Splendid Table. Before developing the show, she worked in film, video and television, including stints at Twin Cities Public Television, Paisley Park, and Comic Relief with Billy Crystal. She also survived a stint as segment producer on The Jenny Jones Show.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.