Recipe Smoking Fish

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by tacmotusn, Dec 5, 2014.


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  1. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Brined and Smoked Fish Recipe's
    1 ) Johnny French's Recipe:
    I used to prepare to smoke fish by sprinkling filets with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and black pepper. When in a hurry, I still do. However, after sampling smoked salmon and halibut while on trips to Alaska, I bought an Alaskan cookbook and read about brining fish before smoking them. The theory is that, more than marinating, flavoring and maybe helping preserve smoked fish, brining glazes the surfaces of their flesh, sealing in the moisture so that the fish aren’t quickly turned into jerky. Brining might even be a misnomer, since the following recipe doesn’t use salt. The original recipe called for a cupful of pickling or kosher salt, but my father wanted something more in line with a cardiac diet. I obliged by replacing the salt with the same amount of brown sugar, which that original recipe also included. Then, I made the mistake of buying a gallon of Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce, so the modified brine got still less salty. This also turned out to be a happy accident, flavor-wise, even if you’re not sodium challenged.
    Anyhow, you mix the ingredients, put the filets in Zip-loc bags, pour enough brine over them to coat all their surfaces, seal the bags, slosh the brine over the fish and stick them in the fridge for anywhere between four hours to overnight. Manipulate the bags to slosh the brine over the filets and rewet the surfaces again several times during that period, if you can. Then, before sticking the filets in the smoker, lay them on a Pam-sprayed grill and let them sit at room temperature where the cat can’t get at them for about an hour, or until the surfaces dry, forming a glaze or skin that will seal the moisture in. I do all my smoking with a charcoal-fired Brinkman water pan smoker, so I ignite the charcoal and let the skin form for as long as it takes to get the charcoal briquettes completely lit.
    My preferred smoking wood is six-inch-long chunks of pecan (same genus as hickory) limbs, soaked in water about an hour and laid atop the lit charcoal at the last second before putting the water pan over it. A double handful of wetted pecan shells works as well as sawn limbs if you don’t have a couple of pecan trees constantly dropping limbs on your yard. Alaskans like to use alder branches for this purpose, many South Texans like mesquite or oak, Yankees go for fruit woods like apple, and I have even seen pineapple leaves dried, chopped, packed in a can and sold for this use in Hawaii. Do NOT use pine or other evergreens unless you like the taste of turpentine.
    Smoking time varies with the equipment, outside temperature, wind conditions, and thickness of the filets. In cool, windy weather, I may have to use more charcoal and cook longer in my Brinkman, but usually half a pan of charcoal and 2 to 2 ½ hours at 212 degrees (the temperature is regulated by the water in the pan to no more than that of its boiling point) is sufficient. Electric smokers with manual temperature controls, wood pans and water pans will also do the job, but you’ll have to experiment with their timing. When you can push a fork through the thickest part of a filet without resistance, it’s done. Don’t overcook.
    Once kippered (the fancy expression for hot-smoked), the fish should still be refrigerated if not eaten right away. Cool the filets on open trays in the fridge before sticking them in fresh, clean Zip-loc bags for storage, or a lot of condensation will form on the insides of the bags while they cool. You can freeze the smoked fish and nuke them later for a hot meal anytime. Again, don’t overcook when reheating.
    French’s Un-Briny Brine
    1 cup water
    1 cup white cooking wine
    1 cup Worcestershire sauce
    1 cup lemon juice
    2 cups brown sugar
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
    Mix until sugar dissolves. Makes enough to brine 5 pounds of filets. If desired, substitute kosher salt or pickling salt for half the sugar. Do NOT use iodized salt.
    So far, I’ve used this brine on Spanish mackerel, halibut, several species of salmon, and even gaspergou (freshwater drum) with great success, but the best tasting brined and smoked fish ever has been pompano. My advice is to brine, smoke and freeze plenty of your favorite fish whenever they’re running, and feast long after the season’s over. They make pretty good gifts and party treats, too.
    Johnny French

     
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  2. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    2) Tyler's Brine and Smoking Recipe:
    This one comes from my late Uncle Si Thorsen from Edmonds Wa, on Puget Sound. He spent a lifetime catching and cooking Salmon and Ling Cod. This recipe is a good generic one for all forms of seafood. You can add ingredients you like and make your own. I use a Luhr Jensen Little Chief Smoker. Si built his own smoker out of plywood then used a single electric burner like folks use in apartments. He regulated the heat in the smoker by opening and closing the door of the smoker and by adjusting the temp on the burner. A pan is used to place soaked wood chips or the fine stuff that mine uses is the consistency of pencil shavings and does not need to be wet before using.
    Uncle Si's Brine
    1 quart water
    1/2 cup noniodized salt. I use pickling salt
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    2 tablespoons pickling spice a mixture of cloves, mustard seed, allspice, bay leaves etc.
    Double the brine mix if you plan on smoking a lot of fish.
    For Pompano, Spanish Mackerel, Salmon fillets etc, I usually let them sit in the brine for about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. For all King Mackerel fillets or balled out meat, and thin fillets go 45 minutes. For some reason even thick King Mackerel chunks get too salty after 45 mintues.It is important not to use Aluminum pots or pans to soak them in. Glass or stainless is fine. I use gallon storage bags. After the brining you rinse them off with water and air dry them on a rack until they get a glazed shiny look. Smoking time depends upon weather and your smoker. The brinkman style BBQ type smoke at higher temperatures. My electric smoker is closer to what Uncle Si said was the best temperature to smoke meat at around 165 degrees. My fish normally takes from 7 to 10 hrs depending upon the thickness of the fillet. Here are some Pompano fresh from the smoker!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    How to Smoke Salmon
    By Hank Shaw on August 12, 2012 | 204 Responses
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    3K+
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    Photo by Holly A. Heyser
    UPDATE, 2/3/14: Given the huge number of comments on this post, many of which are questions, I have now incorporated the answers to all those questions within the post and recipe. I hope this makes the recipe better because of it. ~Hank.
    This has been the Summer of Salmon for me. The king salmon fishing here in California has been the best its been in 20 years, and I’ve caught my share in the past couple months. Add to that a gonzo sockeye and pink salmon fishing trip to Cordova, Alaska, and my freezer runneth over.
    Perfect opportunity to hone my smoking skills. Now it would be the height of arrogance to say that what I do is the end-all, be-all of salmon smoking recipes. Lots of people smoked their salmon in lots of ways, and many of them are good. But I’ve been smoking fish for many years, and I’ve developed a system that works well.
    Keep in mind this is a hot-smoking recipe. Cold smoking, which is the kind of slice-able smoked fish you get in fancy boxes from Scotland, cannot be done in a California summer: Our the ambient air temperature is higher than the 86°F maximum for that style of smoking. You’ll need to wait for winter to get my recipe for that.
    Almost everyone in Salmon Country hot smokes their fish. If you’re unfamiliar with hot-smoked fish, think about those golden smoked whitefish you see in delicatessens; those are hot smoked. How do you eat it? Well, you can just eat it plain, or you can flake it out and make it into a smoked salmon salad, you can pound it with butter and make rillettes, serve it with scrambled eggs, tossed with pasta… you get the point.
    Here’s what you need to get started:
    • A smoker. I use a Bradley digital smoker and I love it. It lets me control the temperature independently of the smoker and tells me exactly what the temperature is inside the chamber. I’ve used a lot of smokers over the years, and I prefer the Bradley. No matter what smoker you use, you will need to be able to a) know your smoking chamber’s temperature, and b) control the heat, at least in a rough sense.
    • Wood. The only downside to a Bradley smoker is that you need to use their pressed wood pucks. As a guy who used a Brinkmann wood-fired BBQ for years, fueling it with scraps of almond and other fruit woods, buying wood can be annoying. I prefer to use alder wood for my salmon, but apple, cherry, oak, maple or even hickory would work fine. Avoid mesquite, which is so distinctive and strong it will kill the salmon’s flavor.
    • Salt. Buy a box of kosher salt from the supermarket. Do not use regular table salt, as it contains iodide and anti-caking agents that will give your salmon an “off” flavor. I use Diamond Crystal, which is cut finer than Morton’s.
    • Something sweet — salmon love sweet. As this is Alaska salmon, I prefer to sweeten my brine with Alaska Birch Syrup[​IMG] from Kahiltna. It’s just like maple syrup, only tapped from birch trees instead. Super cool stuff. It does taste different from maple syrup, and I think it’s worth the expense. But maple syrup is just as good; just use real maple syrup, OK? Not the flavored crap.
    • A large plastic container. Buy the big, flat ones from the supermarket. They stack easily in a normal fridge, so you can have two different brines going. And they clean easily and are pretty cheap.
    • A wire rack. You need to rest your brined fish on a rack with plenty of air circulation to form the all-important pellicle (more on that in a bit), and you will use it to rest the smoked fish before storing it.
    • A basting brush. You probably already have this in your kitchen, but if not, pick one up. Get the flat kind, like you use to paint detail on window trim.
    [​IMG]
    Photo by Holly A. Heyser
    Smoked Salmon, Glazed with Birch or Maple Syrup
    When you are ready to start, you will need smallish pieces of salmon about 1/4 to 1/2 pound each. If you look closely at the piece of sockeye salmon above, you will see it split along the centerline when I picked it up. It’s still perfectly fine to eat, of course, but I am a perfectionist when it comes to presentation.
    Any salmonid fish will work with this recipe. I’ve done it with king salmon, sockeye and pink salmon, plus kokanee, steelhead and Lahontan trout. There is no reason it would not work with coho salmon, chum salmon or any other char or trout species. And yes, I suppose it would work with farmed Atlantic salmon, but I never eat the stuff.
    I prefer to smoke salmon with its skin on, but I’ve done it with skinless pieces and it works fine.
    Note that my salmon cure is very simple. Feel free to add things if you like. I’ve added bay leaves, chiles, thyme, garlic and minced onion. All are fine, but subtle. And since I often use smoked salmon as a base for another dish, I want mine to remain simple and clean-tasting.
    One last piece of advice: Try to fill up your smoker with fish. This process takes a while to do, and your smoker doesn’t care if its full or half-empty, so you might as well make a big batch.
    Makes enough brine for 5 pounds of fish.
    Prep Time: 24 hours, almost all of it passive in the fridge.
    Cook Time: 6 hours, depending on your smoker’s temperature and how smoky you want your fish
    • 5 pounds salmon, trout or char
    • 1 quart cool water
    • 1/3 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt (about 2 ounces of any kosher salt)
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup birch syrup or maple syrup
    • More birch or maple syrup for basting
    __________
    Mix together all the brine ingredients and place your fish in a non-reactive container (plastic or glass), cover and put in the refrigerator. This curing process eliminates some of the moisture from the inside of the fish while at the same time infusing it with salt, which will help preserve the salmon. You will need to cure your salmon at least 8 hours, even for thin fillets from trout or pink salmon. In my experience, large trout or char, as well as pink, sockeye and silver salmon need 24-30 hours. A really thick piece of king salmon might need as much as 30-36 hours in the brine. Never go more than 48 hours, however, or your fish will be too salty.
    Take your fish out of the brine and pat it dry. Sit the fillets on your cooling rack, skin side down. Ideally you’d do this right under a ceiling fan set on high, or outside in a cool, breezy place. By “cool” I mean 60 degrees or cooler. Let the fish dry for 2-4 hours. You want the surface of the fish to develop a shiny skin called a pellicle.
    [​IMG]
    Photo by Hank Shaw
    This is one step many beginning smokers fail to do, but drying your cured, brined fish in a cool, breezy place is vital to properly smoking it. The pellicle, which is a thin, lacquer-like layer on top of the fish, seals it and offers a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to. Don’t worry, the salt in the brine will protect your fish from spoilage. Once you have your pellicle, you can refrigerate your fish for a few hours and smoke it later if you’d like.
    Now you are ready to smoke your fish. Even though this is hot smoking, you still do not want high temperatures. Start with a small fire and work your way up as you go. It is important to bring the temperature up gradually or you will get that white albumin “bleed” on the meat. I can control my heat with the Bradley smoker, so I start the process at 100°F for 2 hours. Then I step up the heat to 140°F for another 2 hours, then finish at 175°F for a final two hours. NOTE: What my smoker is set at is not necessarily what the actual temperature is. Smoking is an art, not a science. To keep temperatures mild, always put water in your drip pan to keep the temperature down. If your smoker is very hot, put ice in the tray.

    After an hour in the smoker, baste the fish with the birch or maple syrup; do this every hour. This is a good way to brush away any albumin that might form. In most cases, you will get a little. You just don’t want a ton of it.
    (Incidentally, yes, I keep the smoke on the whole time. I don’t find this to be too much smoke, but if you want a lighter smoke, finish the salmon without smoke or in a 200°F oven.)
    Even if you can’t control your temperature this precisely, you get the general idea. You goal should be an internal temperature of about 130°F to 140°F.
    You must be careful about your heat. Other than failing to dry your salmon long enough, the single biggest problem in smoking salmon is too high heat. If you’ve ever seen salmon “bleed” a white, creamy substance, that’s a protein called albumin. If you see lots of it, you’ve screwed up; a little is normal. Here’s what happens: If you cook a piece of salmon (or trout or char) at too high a heat, the muscle fibers in the meat contract so violently that they extrude albumin, which immediately congeals on the surface of the fish. It’s ugly, and it also means your salmon will be drier than it could have been.
    You prevent this with a solidly formed pellicle, and by keeping your heat gentle. All this said, if you let your heat get away from you and you do get a white mess on your salmon all is not lost. Just flake it out and make salmon salad with it: The mayonnaise in the salad will mask any dryness.
    Once your fish is smoked, let it rest on the cooling rack for an hour before you put it in the fridge. Once refrigerated and wrapped in plastic, smoked fish will keep for 10 days. If you vacuum-seal it, the fish will keep for up to 3 weeks. Or freeze your fish for up to 6 months.
    More Salmon and other Fish Recipes
     
  4. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Superb Smoked Catfish Recipes - Channels, Blues or Flatheads
    .
    This looks like an excellent info source. The recipe below comes from that source.
    .
    Smoked Catfish
    After they're caught and cleaned, try making some smoked catfish from a few of the fillets. This recipe takes a little time and effort, but it's worth it, especially since it offers a nice change of pace from eating fried catfish.
    Any type of catfish can be smoked, even whole, skinned smaller ones. But the easiest to eat are fillets from larger cats. Catfish can be prepared for the smoker or grill many different ways.
    .
    Smoked Catfish Brine Recipe
    To give the fish a good flavor and the right texture, it needs to be brined for a few hours before smoking. To make the catfish brine, combine...
    • 1 gallon cold water
    • 3/4 cup non-iodized table salt, or canning salt
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    Mix until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
    Preparing The Catfish
    For best results, use fillets that are about the same size and thickness. Thinner fillets take less time to brine and less time to smoke. If you're brining and smoking whole sides, trim off the thin belly edge and the thinnest part of the tail end so the overall thickness is fairly consistent from end to end, and top to bottom.
    If you haven't already, remove the skin from the fillets, too.
    Brining Catfish
    Use a non-reactive container to brine in. That would include glass, ceramic, crockery, plastic and stainless steel. Heck, you could even use a couple of gallon freezer bags to brine in. Actually, those are about the best.
    One gallon of brine is enough for 5 to 6 pounds of fillets. Get 2 freezer bags and place about 3 pounds of cat fillets and 1/2 gallon of the brine in each of 'em.
    Place the bags in a large bowl (just in case they spring a leak) and put it in the fridge. Leave it there for 4 hours. Move the brining catfish around a few times while it's in the fridge so it brines evenly.
    Time's Up! Remove the catfish from the bags and give the fillets a quick rinse. Pat dry with clean towels.
    Lay the fillets on a raised rack, so air can reach both sides. Let the fish air dry for an hour or so at room temperature, until it's not sticky anymore. It should start to get a slightly hard coating on the surface. When it does, it's ready to smoke.
    How To Smoke Catfish
    You can make smoked catfish in a regular smoker or in a grill.(see Gas Grill Smoking) It's important to keep the temperature down just below 200 degrees if you can. 190 is good. If the smoker temperature gets too hot, the juices will start to bleed out of the fish, and it won't be as moist.
    Apple or cherry is good wood to use. It won't take a whole lot, either. One good fist sized chunk, or a couple handfuls of water soaked chips wrapped in foil should do it. And if it's not smokey enough for you, use more the next time.
    Continue smoking the catfish until it flakes. Remove it an let it thoroughly cool before eating. Your smoked catfish will keep stored in the fridge for up to a week. If it's going to be kept longer (hidden, that is) wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil and freeze it. It will keep 6 months in the freezer.

    Other Great Catfish Recipes
    Grill Smoked Teriyaki Catfish
    Peppery Easy Smoked Catfish
    Marinated Grilled Catfish
    Grilled Asian Style Catfish
    And for a good smoker recipe for catfish, try the one here on the page.
     
  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Just to clarify things a bit. I started this particular recipe thread to assemble and record and share info about smoking fish. Any type fish, any personal recipe for brining, rubs or smoking process that anyone wants to add will be highly appreciated. I have sources for free and cheap fish for smoking, but only recently got interested in getting into the process myself. Tac
     
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  6. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    Most awesome thread.......:5s:
     
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  7. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    My Big Chief smoker supposedly does its job at 160F. There is no thermometer mounted to my smoker. I will be adding a pair of thermometers. One just above the 2nd tray, and one just above the 6th and top tray, This should give me a good average temperature for the entire smoker. Depending on results, it may be necessary to extend my smoking time to include shuffling the 5 cooking/smoking grates. Here is what I am installing. Amazon.com : 2" 550F(2-pack) BBQ CHARCOAL GRILL PIT WOOD SMOKER TEMP GAUGE THERMOMETER 2.5" STEM SS RWB : Patio, Lawn & Garden
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2015
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  8. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Monkey

    Have smoker, need fish......

    Excellent thread Tac!! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  9. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Just a short note off the track a bit. I have known about a fresh water spring/river discharge into the Gulf of Mexico. It is located on a largely inaccessible mixed bottom flats with shallows 4 to 6 inches at low tide. 3 to 4 ft deeper at high tide, and surrounded by masses and masses of oyster bars. Many a boat has scared their bottoms and tore up props and lower units in this area. This shallow water area drops to 44 to 50 degrees F in the winter. My spring discharge is a deep hole 30 to 50 yards by 75 to 100 yards and is about 30 to 35 foot deep. Water in winter there is in 70s. Just like fish in a barrel. I have said too much. Oh well, follow me sometime and maybe you will discover my spot.
     
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  10. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey Site Supporter+

    Oyster bars Hmmmmmm[beer]
     
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  11. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey Site Supporter+

    EXCELLENT thread! Lots of info I'm gonna have to try. Thanks!
     
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  12. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I have been thinking of buying or making a smoker, for game, and cheese as well.
     
  13. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

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  14. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    with Sec_Monkey's help I now have both a pdf file and hard printed copy of my lost Big Chief smoker instruction/recipes booklet. Links below. Smokehouse Products also have a forum/blog where constantly updated info and recipes can be found. The recipe that follows is an example of another way to do things.
    .
    Original Smoked Salmon Recipe
    This recipe is perhaps the best smoked salmon recipe we have discovered in over 40 years of making smoked salmon with our Big Chief and Little Chief Electric Smokers. It’s basic, it’s simple, and it consistently makes absolutely mouth-watering smoked salmon. With just two ingredients, salt and brown sugar, it couldn’t be any easier to produce the best smoked salmon recipe you’ve ever made. And with the optional step at the end, you can season a batch of smoked salmon with a variety of flavors all from the same dry brine mix. Whether you’ve been smoking salmon all your life, or it’s your first time, give this recipe a try, we’re sure you will love it!
    A special thanks to salmon fishing legend Herb Good for sharing this Original Smoked Salmon Recipe!
    [​IMG]
    Ingredients:
    10 lbs. of salmon fillet
    1 cup plain, non-iodized salt
    4 heaping cups of brown sugar
    Melted honey (optional to taste)
    Cracked pepper (optional to taste)
    What else you need:
    Big Chief or Little Chief Electric Smoker
    One 1.75 lb. bag of Smokehouse Products Alder Wood Chips
    1 bowl to mix ingredients
    1 flat bottom glass or plastic container (or crock) with cover
    1 electric fan
    Directions:
    Add salt and brown sugar to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Cut the salmon fillet into strips for best brining and presentation (view video on right column of this page or click here for video), this will help make sure all pieces of salmon are a similar thickness. Line the flat bottom container with salmon fillet strips leaving space for the brine to cover all sides of each piece. Cover the first layer generously with the salt/brown sugar mixture. Continue to add additional layers on top and cover each layer generously with the salt/brown sugar mixture. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and mix the salmon pieces around in the brine. Recover and place container back in the refrigerator for a total brine time of at least 14 hours and up to 3 days.
    Remove the salmon from the brine and wipe each piece removing any excess brine. Place salmon on grills of the Big Chief or Little Chief Electric Smoker. Use Smokehouse Products Drying Screens to help eliminate the fish sticking to the grills. Use the fan to dry the salmon until it has a shiny dry paper looking finish. Place salmon in the Big Chief or Little Chief smoker and add 2-3 pans of Smokehouse Products Alder Wood Chips (one immediately after the other). Each pan will last about 45 minutes in the smoker. Finish the salmon with heat only. Generally, leave the salmon in the smoker for 6-12 hours (varies widely based on ambient temperature, wind and other factors). This may even require up to 20 hours in cold temperatures. Allow the smoker to dry the salmon to your favorite level of dryness, then remove.
    OPTIONAL: For added flavor, heat the honey in the microwave or on stovetop. Brush the honey on the salmon. Add cracked pepper to your taste on top of the honey. Place salmon back in the smoker for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the salmon when it is done to your taste. Cut a thick piece in half and ensure it is pink all the way through to double check doneness.
    ENJOY!
    .
    recipes and more ... Recipes for Smoked Salmon, Jerky & Other Smoker Recipes
    .
    pdf file of instruction booklet with recipes ... http://www.smokehouseproducts.com/LCRB.pdf
     
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  15. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Stole this recipe too. My growling stomach and yearning for home made smoked fish knows no bounds.
    .
    This guy sounds a little redneck and haphazard in his approach to the whole process. Read with care and compare. Do not consider this an endorsement. I have not tried any of these recipes yet. Soon .... very soon I will give a recipe review and divulge all.
    .
    This is an old method of preparing fish that not only makes for a taste treat, it also can be used to help preserve the fish. Some fish can be smoked lightly like lox. Some fish can be smoked heavily into a jerky. Both dry and oily fish can be smoked. It allows for the tasty preparation of fish that are otherwise rather hard to use, like Sheephead or Perch.


    A Couple Of Nice Loads. Not to make an ad for Little Chief Smokers, but that is what I use and I get great results with it. It is a dry electric smoker. Most smokers these days are wet smokers, that actually seem to cook the meat, more than smoking it. They don't dry the meat much either.
    .
    The Little Chief Smoker comes in a cardboard box, that they say you must remove before use. They didn't used to say that. They used to say that the smoker works in the box and that it is the cardboard that insulates the smoker to get it to the proper heat. I have tried it without the box and it did not seem to work nearly as well. I almost think they now say to take the box off due to fire hazard concerns, but it works far better with the box on. Just cut a hole in the back for the cord and one in the front for the wood pan. I suspect that there is a real fire hazard to having the cardboard box on still when smoking, so be careful. I have had no fires YET, but there is a lot of heat near that cardboard. I am always careful of that. Sometimes I actually put some news paper on the top and over the sides to increase the heat a bit more. This would be for a big load of fish or a cold day.
    .
    Especially with oily fish, you may want to line the drip pan with a bit of aluminum foil before smoking. It will last longer and make clean up go better.
    .
    Spraying vegetable oil on to the smoking racks or rubbing it on with a paper towel, will help prevent the fish from sticking when the smoking is done. Clean the racks after use.
    .
    The smoker comes with a bag of hickory chips or perhaps I should say "hickory sawdust". These work fine and there are other types sold by Little Chief, including Apple, Alder, Rose and Mesquite wood chips. These are all good, though Alder and Apple are a bit lighter and so may be more appropriate for lighter, less oily, fish. You can also get bigger hickory or mesquite chips that are made for a Bar-B-Que. I put some of this in the pan first and then cover them with the finer wood chips.
    .
    The idea behind smoking is that it is a 2 step process of cooking. The brine mix flavors and chemically cooks the fish while it is cold. Then the smoker uses heat to cook, flavor and dry the meat the rest of the way. It is a slow heating process, that should operate at a bit below 150 degrees.
    .
    The brine is basically water, salt and sugar. This is all it takes to chemically prepare the fish, but I have never wondered what it would taste like. I always add spices.
    .
    I make my brine the night before I am going to use it to help the salt dissolve and to let some of the spices soak in. Of course, sometimes I have had to just make it right before the fish go in. It works.
    Add 1 cup rock salt and one cup sugar to 2 quarts water. I use Sugar In The Raw because turbinado sugar tastes better. Add perhaps 4 ounces of molasses for flavor. Add lots Italian spices including oregano, bay and sage. I don't use garlic for smoking and I do not add any onion before the fish, though I often do put in 1/2 chopped onion at the same time as the fish. Putting it in the brine overnight may bring out too much of the onion flavor.
    You can add some serious cayenne pepper if you must.
    A lighter fish like Salmon or Halibut, should get a lighter brine. I have made brine with honey instead of molasses.
    .
    The fish can be prepared in a number of ways. I usually like to put in boneless and skinless filets, but the fish can be just gutted or steaked and it does not have to be skinned, though I would try to remove all scales.
    .
    I rarely smoke a piece more than 1 1/2 inches thick, but I have. Just figure that the thicker it is or if it has skin still on it, it will cook slower and need more time or heat.
    .
    Put the fish into the brine and try to get it well covered. The fish will tend to float some, so you stir it once in a while or perhaps lay a fork or something on it to hold it under the brine. If there is a lot of fish, with the brine made this way, you can easily add another quart of water to the mix without overly diluting it.
    The fish should set in the brine in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
    Take the fish from the brine. I pour out the brine first if it is not going to be re-used. Your hands can get frozen by repeatedly reaching into the stuff. Put the fish onto paper towels to dry off and pat or rub the fish with paper towels to get off the excess brine. Put them on the racks for the smoker with some spacing between them.
    Put the racks in the smoker and plug it in. Put wood in the pan and insert it onto the heater element. After 1 or 2 hours, empty that and put in a new pan of wood.
    I have seen trout turn out well cooked in less than 10 hours. I have needed to cook a large batch of tuna for more than 16 hours. I have cooked tuna bellies and fish for jerky, over 18 hours. It all depends on the size of the load, the heat of the smoker, the thickness of the fish and what you want at the end. I normally smoke a batch for 12 hours and always check it at that point. A smaller batch, I check even earlier.
    Take the fish out and enjoy. It is best to let it cool some before refrigerating or freezing the fish, to get rid of some of the moisture that will come out of it.
    I have smoked large prawns before. They come out tasty, but with a truly strange texture. The first bite is interesting. Sorta like good tasting rubber bands. It's worth trying.
    You can actually smoke cheeses and even fruits, at a lower temperature. This is described in the Little Chief cooking book that comes with the smoker. They also give a number of other methods of smoking, that are similar, but different than what is written here.
    Like almost all cooking, smoking has a few ground rules and after that, you can do all kinds of different things to experiment or to tune the taste to what you want.
    Part of the fun of smoked fish is what it can be used for. Here are a few suggestions of what it can be especially good for:
    Crumble it up onto a salad.
    Make a spread of smoked fish and mayonnaise or cream cheese. The fish must be cut or crumbled finely and mixed in with a fork or such.
    Break it up and put it with a fettuccini sauce on pasta. That recipe can have capers cooked in with it.
    I like to make sandwiches with it. Stronger smoked fish is sometimes best eaten with a loaf of sourdough bread. Anyway you make it, you will probably enjoy it.
     
    Sapper John likes this.
  16. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    If anyone gets hooked like I am likely to ..... here is a place to keep you drooling ... Forums
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    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
    KAS likes this.
  17. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    Don't let your frozen fish become freezer burned and distastefully inedible.
    .
    Turn Frozen Fish into Gourmet Treats
    By: Buzz Ramsey
    Originally printed in the Northwest Steelheader Magazine in 2013.
    When was the last time you took inventory of the fish population in your freezer? Unfortunately, fish doesn’t keep very well when frozen. The more time they spend in the freezer the less desirable they become. And while there are ways to make fish last in the freezer for six to twelve months, dropping fillets in a zip-top bag won’t get you much past 60 days.
    Surprisingly to some, fresh frozen fish lend themselves particularly well to the smoking process; you see, freezing causes cell tissue to burst, so fish that have been frozen take on the flavor of the brine ingredients and smoke better. You can really impress your friends by preparing your freezer fish this way.
    Prepare your fish for brining and smoking by cutting your fillets into stripes about an inch wide, making sure to leave the skin in place, then thoroughly rinse these fish chunks in cold water and immerse them into your brine solution.
    The brine recipe we use most often includes a mixture of 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup sugar and 2 quarts water – this is the right amount for 10-to-20 pounds of fillets. Pre-mix these ingredients in a stainless steel or plastic container and immerse your fillets into your brining solution. Keep in mind that almost any container will work for brining, but avoid aluminum containers as they can taint the taste of your fish. Then place your filled container in the refrigerator (or cooler with ice), for a minimum of six hours, stirring at least once during the process.
    You can add other flavorings to your brine solution. Two of our favorite additives are wine (usually one of the fruity varieties) or soy sauce. Amounts vary depending on taste, but you might start off with a cup of wine and/or a quarter cup of soy sauce – just mix it in.
    After six to twelve hours, or overnight, remove the fillets from your brine solution and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Remove excess moisture with paper towels and place your fillets on the smoker grills skin side down, which helps prevent sticking after the smoking job is complete.
    A way to add additional flavorings to your fish is to sprinkle spices directly onto your fillets after the brining process – this can be done when the fillets are first placed on your smokehouse grills; for example, you can coat your fish with liquid brown sugar and sprinkle with your favorite spices, which might include ground onion, garlic or black pepper.
    It’s important to allow your fish to air dry for at least one hour before placing in your smokehouse. Allowing your fillets to air dry will enhance the color, texture and flavor of your fish, and is the secret of many smoking enthusiasts. Then it is time to place your loaded rack in your portable smokehouse.
    We use Little and/or Big Chief Smokehouses (we have several) when smoking fish or game, which are fired with an electric heating element that not only burns the wood flavor fuel that creates the smoke but completes the curing process of slowly drying you fish. These portable smokehouses are designed to be used outside, well away from any combustible material. The smoking and curing process will take 8-to-12 hours, depending on the outside temperature, thickness of your fillets, and the quantity of fish.
    Wood chips impart their unique flavor to the fish so their selection is important. Hickory is the all-around favorite for fish, jerky, steaks, ribs – almost any food item. Other wood flavors are available such as apple, cherry and alder, which impart a mild taste and what we use when adding smoke flavor to game birds, poultry or cheese. Mesquite wood imparts a distinct flavor that is popular for jerky or adding smoke-flavor to ribs or steaks – it doesn’t take much mesquite to add a lot of wood flavor.
    The better quality wood flavor chips (like those produced by Smokehouse Products) have had the bark removed, which is bitter, and are ground and dried before packaging. A pan full of chips will smoke for about an hour before being consumed, and even though the entire smoking/cooking/drying process may take up to 12 hours, you will only need 2-to-3 pans of wood fuel to add the correct amount of smoke flavor.
    After the smoking process is complete, we allow our fillets to cool and then store in a brown paper bag with several paper towels folded at the bottom. Keeping your smoke house treats in a paper bag and stored in your refrigerator will keep them fresh tasting for up to three weeks. Don’t let your frozen fish become freezer burned or poor tasting by remaining in your freezer too long. Wow yourself and friends by smoking them now.
     
    kellory likes this.
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