Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos recipe is one of the most unique and delicious ways to use smoked salmon. We enjoyed “Smoker Jim” Ruddell’s delicious smoked seafood specialties during our summer trips to Cayucos, a little surf town just north of Morro Bay.
During one of our last visits, Jim was kind enough to take us on a tour behind the scenes. Huge vertical smokers filled the back of the restaurant, stacked high with fresh ahi, salmon and albacore. Jim shared that the secret to his deliciously sweet salmon was a glaze of apricot jam.
The menu at Ruddell’s Smokehouse is short and simple, allowing the freshness of his ingredients to shine.
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In addition to salmon, the menu includes smoked albacore, ahi, chicken, shrimp and pork loin. All are available as tacos, sandwiches, or salads.
Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos are something of a legend here in California. In fact, they’ve appeared on many “Best Of” lists, including Sunset Magazine and Coastal Living Magazine. Jim describes his tacos on the menu as “smoked salmon, wrapped in a flour tortilla and grilled to perfection with subtle gourmet sauce, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, mixed with apples, celery, carrots, a hint of green onion and a touch of love.”
For something more hearty, the same mixture is available on a huge deli roll that’s grilled and stuffed with the same mixture.
Update: We were saddened to learn that Smoker Jim passed away in 2018 and the restaurant is no longer operating.
Ruddell’s Smoked Salmon Tacos
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Kosher salt
- 2 pound skin-on salmon fillet cut into four equal pieces
- 2 tablespoons Smuckers apricot preserves
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Guldens spicy brown mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 Granny Smith apple peeled and diced
- 1 celery rib diced
- 1 carrot shredded
- 1 green onion diced
- 12 flour tortillas warmed
- 3 red leaf lettuce chopped
- 2 tomatoes sliced
- Cayucos Hot Sauce optional
Prepare the Salmon:
- Combine sugar and salt in a bowl. Place salmon on a casserole dish and top with the sugar-salt mixture evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Make Gourmet Sauce:
- Whisk gourmet sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and chill until ready to use.
Make the Slaw:
- Combine apple, celery, carrot and green onion in a bowl and chill.
Smoke the Salmon:
- Set smoker to 250 F.
- Remove salmon from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Brush tops and sides of salmon fillets evenly with apricot mixture. Place fillets, skin side down, on cooler side of grill, with thicker ends facing fire.
- Smoke, skin side down, about 30-35 minutes.
- Transfer salmon to a serving platter.
- Remove skin from salmon and discard. Cut salmon into bite-sized pieces.
- Warm the tortillas on a grill or over the stove.
- Spread with gourmet sauce, topped with the apple slaw, salmon, red leaf lettuce and tomatoes. Enjoy with Tapatio hot sauce, if desired.