Smoked Salmon Pasta

5 from 11 votes
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I love the flavors of smoked salmon pasta: Homemade (or store-bought) whole wheat pasta, tarragon, parsley, lots of sweet butter, and of course my own smoked salmon.

This is a recipe for the Pacific Northwest, for Salmon Nation. Big flavors, hearty, unpretentious. No tweezers, fancy plating or hard-to-find ingredients here.

A plate of smoked salmon pasta
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I make my own smoked salmon and my own whole wheat pasta, and it this recipe will be better with homemade salmon and pasta, but store-bought will do. Note that I use hot-smoked salmon, which flakes, not cold-smoked, which will not.

I chose whole wheat pasta, actually bigoli, which I made with an old school Italian torchio, because it has heft, and the homemade spaghetti is rougher in texture than machine made; this roughness allows each strand of pasta to hold onto more sauce. I urge you to use whole wheat, spelt or some other heartier, darker pasta here. You will taste the difference.

You will also notice the difference if you can find artisanal pastas, or at least ones made with bronze dies. These will all be rougher, which helps the pasta grab the sauce.

As for the salmon, in this case I used a chum salmon I smoked over alder and glazed with birch syrup. Chum (a/k/a keta or dog salmon) are excellent candidates for smoking, but any species will do. As would any kind of trout. Smoked lake trout would be ideal. New Englanders should use smoked mackerel or bluefish, Southerners smoked king mackerel, mullet, amberjack or wahoo.

Fresh herbs add brightness, color and a hint of bitterness, which cuts the richness of the smoked salmon pasta, butter and such. I like tarragon because it works well here, but if you can’t find it, use more parsley. Chives, chervil, savory (winter or summer), marjoram or even fresh sage would be a nice option.

The rest is pretty simple. and your smoked salmon pasta will come together in less than 30 minutes if you have everything ready. What to drink? Why, a West Coast IPA or a pale ale, if you are drinking beer, and a crisp rosé, a big white, like an oaky Chardonnay, or a light red, like a Grenache or Gamay, would be my choices.

A plate of smoked salmon pasta
5 from 11 votes

Smoked Salmon Pasta

To really appreciate this recipe you should use whole wheat, spelt or other darker pasta, not standard semolina - but if that's all you can find, don't let it stop you from making this recipe. I prefer smoked salmon here, but any smoked fish will work, such as trout, mackerel or bluefish. 
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon, flaked
  • 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Black pepper

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt to make the water taste quite salty, like seawater. Add the pasta.
  • In a large saute or frying pan, heat the butter over medium heat and add the shallot. Saute the shallot, stirring often. You want it soft but not browned. Add the flaked salmon and spread it in one layer in the pan. Let this cook to sear a bit. Don't move the fish for at least a minute, maybe two.
  • Pour in the wine and use a metal spatula to scrape up everything off the bottom of the pan. When most of the wine has boiled away, mix in the herbs and add fair bit of black pepper, maybe a couple teaspoons' worth; you want to taste black pepper in this dish. Turn the heat to low. 
  • To finish, move the pasta from the boiling water to the pan, and toss. I like to add maybe 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water to the mix to emulsify everything. Toss and serve at once. 

Nutrition

Calories: 591kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 460mg | Potassium: 491mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 719IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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9 Comments

  1. I made this tonight for the second time. Full recipe, but halved the pasta. I’m a believer in high sauce to pasta ratio. It was delicious, but 1.5tsp black pepper was bordering on too much at that concentration. I imagine spreading it out over a full pound of pasta may lessen the impact. This is a delicious recipe and a great way to use up some smoked salmon.

  2. Made this for dinner tonight. It was quick and fantastic. I did not have tarragon so I used some Herb ‘d Providence.

  3. Quick and tasty! I had to sub sweet onion for the shallot (and a tad of garlic) and I used Rao’s semolina pasta, as that’s what I had on hand. Would make again, though the hubby isn’t much of a pasta fan so that means it’s all for me and the kiddo!

  4. We used homemade quinoa and some locally smoked Lake Michigan salmon for this amazing recipe! Quick, easy and delicious, another winner Hank! Thank you for all you cook!

  5. That looks and sounds fabulous Hank! I have smoked salmon hubby made this last week and I love to make pasta. We will enjoy making this recipe and I bet it tastes fabulous!
    I see you will be in Alaska this week. I am in Homer, but won’t be able to make it up there for your visit. : (
    Enjoy your stay in beautiful Alaska!
    Really like your blog, books, emails, etc.
    Happy summer!

  6. I’m sure this pasta is perfect as is… But I think when I make this next week, I’m going to throw in the massive amount of swiss chard I have growing in the garden.