Hot Smoked Salmon with Pesto Stuffing

Prep time - 20 minutes
Cook time - 25 minutes
Serves - 6
Difficulty - Easy


2 x approximately 700g salmon fillets

Brine (optional):
2 tablespoons sea salt, 4 peppercorns, 2 teaspoons caster sugar, 3 slices garlic, 3L warm water

Pesto Genovese Stuffing:
2 big handfuls of fresh picked basil leaves or wild garlic (rinsed)
8g coarse sea salt
50g pine nuts
2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
75g each of Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses
250ml Italian olive oil
About 125g fine soft breadcrumbs – we use focaccia

For barbecuing:
2 small handfuls of apple or cherry wood chips
To Finish: 1 small lemon, thinly sliced


First brine the salmon (optional).  Mix together all the ingredients and add the salmon fillets, set aside whilst you make the pesto.
You could place all the ingredients into a food processor, however the real way to make pesto, ensuring you capture the essence of the flavour and texture, is to use a pestle and mortar.

Place the salt in the base of the mortar, add the basil or garlic leaves, pine nuts and garlic.  Rotate the pestle to grind the ingredients down – the salt helps this.  When this starts to happen, add in the cheese a little at a time. 

Now start to slowly pour in the olive oil until all the oil has been absorbed.  Stir in the breadcrumbs to firm up the pesto so that you can pack it onto the salmon. Alternatively, you can blitz the pesto ingredients in a mini blender or use a stick blender.

Fire up your BBQ to 200c and set for indirect cooking (lite charcoal at each side of the BBQ base).  Soak the wood chips for 10 minutes.

To assemble the salmon, drain the fillets and pat them dry.  Line a perforated BBQ tray with parchment paper and place one salmon fillet on top and season with sea salt and pepper, season the other fillet too. 

Pack the pesto stuffing on top of the first fillet to cover the surface but leave the sides without pesto.  Place the second fillet on top to create a pesto sandwich.  Season the top of the salmon and arrange some slices of lemon along the centre.

Drain the woodchips and add half directly to each basket of charcoal or put the woodchips in a smoke box if using gas.  Place the salmon in the centre of the grill and hot smoke for about 20 minutes. 

Check the internal temperature of the salmon, it should read 65c, remove and rest for 5 minutes before serving.