Tea Time for Salmon 

Go ahead--cure your own "smoked" salmon 

| Recipes | Raquel Pelzel

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A smoked, black-tea-based cure gives the salmon its smoky flavor.

Get ready to have your mind blown. With only salt, sugar, smoky Lapsang souchong tea and your refrigerator, you can make "smoked" salmon at home in just a few hours, with no babysitting required.

Grind 3 tablespoons of Lapsang souchong tea in a spice grinder or coffee mill until very fine. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in ¼ cup kosher salt and 3 tablespoons sugar. Pour half of the tea rub into a container large enough to fit the salmon comfortably.

Set a 1¼-pound piece of center-cut, skin-on salmon on top, skin side down. Pour the remaining tea rub over and pat lightly to evenly coat. Cover the container and refrigerate for eight to 12 hours.

Rinse the salmon under cold running water, without wiping off the extra rub. Pat dry with paper towels.

Slice into paper-thin pieces across the grain.

Or, poach the cured fish in a 250° oven in a medium saucepan filled with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover. Cook until pale pink, 18 to 20 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the oil and break into flaky shards with a fork. 

Lapsang Souchong-Cured Salmon

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus 8 hours curing); if poaching, add 5 minutes
Cook Time: N/A if curing; if poaching, add 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes (plus 8 hours curing); if poaching, add 20 minutes (plus 8 hours curing)

  • Cure

    3 tablespoons Lapsang souchong tea

    ¼ cup kosher salt

    3 tablespoons granulated sugar

    One 1¼-pound piece center-cut, skin-on salmon, pin bones removed


    If Poaching

    1 piece Lapsang souchong-cured salmon

    2 to 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

    Flaky salt


1. Cure the salmon: To a spice grinder or coffee mill, add the Lapsang souchong tea and pulverize until very fine. Transfer the ground tea to a small bowl and stir in the salt and sugar. Pour half of the tea cure into an 8-inch container. Set the salmon on top, skin side down. Pour the remaining tea cure over the salmon and pat lightly to evenly coat the surface. Cover the container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.

2. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and rinse it under cold water, letting the water remove the excess tea cure (don't rub the salmon to remove the cure). Blot the salmon dry with paper towels and set it on a cutting board.

3. If serving the salmon cured: Use a very sharp knife to slice the salmon paper-thin on a bias and against the grain. Arrange on a platter and serve.

4. If poaching the salmon: Preheat the oven to 250°. Place the cured, rinsed salmon in a medium oven-safe saucepan or casserole (the salmon shouldn't touch the edges of the pan) and pour enough olive oil over the salmon to barely submerge it. Place the saucepan in the oven and poach until the fish is pale pink across its entire surface with barely white edges, and the oil smells very fragrant, 18 to 20 minutes.

5. Transfer the poached salmon to a paper-towel-lined plate, then use 2 forks to flake the salmon. Place the flaked salmon on a plate, drizzle with more olive oil, and serve with a pinch of flaky salt.

Buy Barrel-Aged Lapsang Souchong
DIY Pastrami-Cured Turkey Breast
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