I would say in general that if I'm just eating the salmon I'd prefer it baked or grilled. But if you want the stronger flavor for some type of appetizer or spread the smoked version would work better. You can use your outdoor grill to cook/smoke the salmon, of course, but I wanted to try this method out since it sounded so intriguing, and if you can use the indoor technique you don't have to stand outside in the cold if you're doing this in the middle of the winter. I was pretty pleased with the way this came out.
First, a couple of specifics from my experience:
1. Skin-on salmon works much better than skinless. The KS salmon was skin-on, and even though I ended up overcooking it somewhat it was still moist and delicious. The Costco salmon was skinless and came out much drier even though I was more careful about the cooking time. The skin protects the meat and also adds fat and flavor. Yes, you do have to discard it and so you're paying for something you throw out, but if you get a good sale price you'll still come out ahead.
2. I had wood chunks, not shavings or chips. I don't even remember where I got them, You can see in the picture above that the wood is charred around the edges. It's re-usable until it has been blackened all the way through. Chips or shavings can just be used once.
Here's the general procedure:
1. Use a large heavyweight Dutch oven type of pan and line the bottom with foil. I used an old pot that was scuffed and scratched and that I wasn't planning to use again for actual cooking, but if you're thorough with the foil you could certainly use a regular pot. Just don't use a pot with a nonstick coating, as the high heat and smoke will damage it.
2. Brine the salmon with a solution of two tablespoons of table salt to one quart of water, adding 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke if you want a strong smoke flavor. Let the salmon sit in the brine at room temperature for 15 minutes.
2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of wood chips or shavings on the foil, or put on a few wood chunks. All the recipes I consulted online said not to soak the wood, but if you use an outdoor grill you're always told to soak it. I would think that soaking the wood would make it smoke more, so I did try to do that to my chunks but I don't think the water penetrated very far.
3. Put s rack or steamer basket on top of the chips; spray with cooking spray. Brush your salmon with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange skin side down on the rack. You can see above that I tried to do too much at once; there should be some space between the pieces to allow the smoke to circulate.
4. Cover the top with foil and crimp tightly around the edges, then put the lid on and press down tightly.
5. Turn on your kitchen fan. Turn the burner on high and leave for five minutes, then turn down to medium-low and let cook for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and lid and check for doneness; the outside pieces will probably be done but the inner ones will need a few more minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate; use as you would regular smoked salmon. You'll see that there's some of that icky white residue on my cooked salmon; it's just a harmless protein. The brining does reduce the residue somewhat. I wanted to post a picture of what the salmon really looked like after I cooked it, so I left it on.
I plan to make more of this to use for adorable little open-face sandwiches for the wedding reception I'm doing later in March.