Salmon Burnt Ends

  • By: Jack Mancuso

Salmon Burnt Ends - Cuso Cuts

You’re probably familiar with succulent pork or beef burnt ends, but what about other proteins? I’ve found that by using cubed Salmon for burnt ends, you can get a classic feel with the taste you love from good fish. Better still, cooking it is far faster than the recipes for traditional meats. The best advantage of all? They’re ridiculously delicious. 

All about Salmon

One of the reasons cooks appreciate Salmon is because of its versatility. IMO it’s a Chef’s dream come true! You can prepare and use it in many different ways including:

  • Cedar-plank cooked
  • Creamed for a shmear on bagels
  • As Fish sticks
  • Formed into cakes or burgers
  • Grilled
  • Oven-baked or roasted
  • Poached
  • In Salad
  • Skillet fried
  • Smoked
  • As Sushi, Sashimi, Poki
  • In Taco filling

If you’re not familiar with Salmon, it’s a mild, rich-flavored fish (albeit somewhat oily). If you barbecue, bake or fry Salmon you will draw out a buttery edge and create a golden, satisfying crust. Smoking Salmon is a great option too. 

Farmed & Fresh Salmon 

Salmon is a popular fish with a lovely pinkish-orange hue. In the wild, they’re HUGE. Atlantic Salmon grow up to 12 pounds, while King Salmon comes in at 150 pounds! That’s a whole lotta eatin’.

The Pacific Ocean and tributaries of the North Atlantic are the predominant homes for Salmon. If you have the choice between farmed and wild-caught, I recommend the latter because it usually has a better quality. Unlike Halibut, which is flaky, Salmon has a meatier consistency, which is why you can make it into burnt ends without losing fish bits. 

Are Salmon Burnt Edges Fishy-Smelling?

The smell of Salmon connects with the way in which it was prepared. For example, raw Salmon should smell lightly fishy and salty. It can be consumed in raw form. When you bake or poach Salmon it smells much like whatever aromatics you used, like garlic and lemon. If it smells strongly of fish, it’s a sign the piece has gone bad. Grilled Salmon is similar but takes on a smoky element.

Tip: If you’ve purchased fresh Salmon, it should not have a fishy taste or smell after cooking. It should not be gray or dull-looking, slimy or sticky

Health Benefits of Salmon

The beauty of Salmon beyond the obvious pleasure it gives to foodies is that it is healthy. Salmon is high in Vitamin B, which supports a healthy nervous system. The fish provides 13% of the recommended daily amount of potassium in a 3.5-ounce serving, more than a banana. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure. Additionally, Salmon contains Astaxanthin, which supports good, HDL cholesterol

And that’s only skimming the surface! So, let’s get eating.

Salmon burnt ends on a cutting board

Salmon Burnt Ends Ingredient List

A thick Salmon cut (2” thick, 3-4 ounces per person)


Teriyaki Sauce

Sweet Chili Sauce

Barbecue Sauce

Soy Sauce

Garlic powder

Alternative: Curing Ingredients

1 cup Brown Sugar

A scant ¼ cup of Kosher Salt

2 Tbs Orange Blossom Honey

Pinch: Red pepper flakes (optional)

Smoked salmon on a rack in the snow

Cuso’s BBQ rub (lemon pepper) or hot honey.

Salmon Burnt Ends Directions

  1. Debone your Salmon using a proper knife and cutting board. 
  2. Cube the Salmon into 2” x 2” squares using a Chef’s Knife, leaving the skin on.
  3. Marinate or Cure your Salmon overnight. Jack uses the marinade featured here.
  4. Use equal amounts of the sauces, making sure the Salmon is evenly coated. Add about 1 tsp of garlic powder (or more, if you wish). If you feel really bold, add a squeeze of lemon
  5. Prepare your smoker (or grill) for 300 degrees F. 
  6. Remove the Salmon to an oiled rack, skin side down. Sprinkle with any barbecue seasonings you enjoy with fish (pepper, smoky paprika, onion powder, thyme, basil, dill, parsley, etc.)
  7. Cook for about 40 minutes, brushing with leftover marinade every 15 minutes. 
  8. Plate by garnishing with chopped green onion.

My choice condiment for the day: Spicy Mayo!

Pit Master’s Memo

You may be wondering what to expect from the flavor of Salmon in different forms. Raw Salmon may remind you of citrus and butter. As a result, it’s great with Ponzu sauce. Poached and baked Salmon brings out a creaminess combined with your spice profile. Try butter poaching with garlic, lemon, and parsley. Fried Salmon brings a crunchy texture into the equation. 

With grilling or smoking, the flavor of the Salmon gains dimension. It will be smoky either way. I suggest trying fruitwood for your smoker.

Salmon Burnt Ends Side Dishes

Lemon Pasta

Garlic Green Beans

Thai Noodle Salad

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus

Chicken-mushroom Risotto

Glazed, Roasted Sweet Potatoes

From the Bar


Pinot Noir

Beer with Citrus notes

Cucumber Martini

Mango Margarita


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