Cold Smoked Halibut


Cold smoking is a technique that preserves food (and gives it a wonderful smoky flavor and aroma) just by smoke, without heat. To get a really nice smoky aroma, it is best to cold smoke for 24 hours. This means that it is best to do this in winter, when the outside temperature (where I live) is around that of the refrigerator and it is no problem to leave a piece of raw fish at that temperature for such a long time. First the fish needs to be cured (the same process as used for making gravlax), and then smoked. For the smoking you will need a grill with a cover, and a cold smoke generator.


This is a contraption that you will up with smoking dust that will very slowly smolder and give off smoke for about 8 hours. Both curing and smoking will take about 24 hours each, so you will need to start two days in advance. After the great results with cold smoking salmon (with or without whiskey), I thought it would be nice to try it with halibut as well. And it worked like a charm with a wonderful result. Here’s what I did…



The recipe can be scaled for a smaller or larger amount of halibut

500 grams (1.1 lbs) fresh halibut with skin [100%]

250 grams (.55 lbs) coarse sea salt [50%]

50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar [10%]

1 Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed

grated zest of 1 untreated lemon

cold smoke generator + enough smoking dust to fill it three times



Combine the salt, sugar, crushed peppercorns and zest in a bowl.


Stir to mix.


Put a layer of the curing mix in a container, put the halibut on top, and then cover the top with the curing mix.


Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.


After those 24 hours, the salt will have drawn out a lot of moisture from the fish, thus curing it.


Carefully rinse off the curing mix with cold running water, rubbing the fish as needed.


Pat the fish dry thoroughly with paper towels.


Cold smoke the fish for about 24 hours. You will need to replenish the smoke generator after each 8 hours.


The fish will obtain a wonderful golden hue.


Slice it thinly at an angle with a very sharp knife.


I served it with a fennel salad, dressed with good extra virgin olive oil, salt, and a bit of lemon juice.

Wine pairing

This is great with many dry white wines, especially if they have a hint of smokiness like some pinot grigios.



Secreto is the ‘secret’ butcher’s cut of iberico pork. It is great when prepared sous-vide and is served with chervil root and pomegranate.


8 thoughts on “Cold Smoked Halibut

  1. Stefan, you have so many more choices for fresh fish than we do and Halibut is not one of them. Looked very good.
    BTW, sometimes when I am cold smoking salmon, I will do some Kosher salt or sea salt to have on hand for seasoning: I just spread it very thinly in a flat dish (or make one from foil) then spritz (mist) it with water so that the smoke clings to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Don’t you love it when an experiment ends so well? Your plated smoked halibut, Stefan, was such a simple but elegant dish. It would be right at home if served at any celebratory dinner. I don’t think I could wait that long, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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