How To Smoke Fish
The great thing about fishing is that there is more to it than simply casting a rod. From choosing the right bait and the right fishing spot to waiting patiently (sometimes for hours on end) before catching that whopper of a fish you had hoped for; this sport has many facets. And then there’s dinner time.
One of the most thrilling things about being an angler is hunting for food that you, your friends, and your family can enjoy – with smoked fish being one of the ultimate delicacies.
However, smoking a fish takes a little more effort than simply grilling it or pan searing it. This meal prep can be somewhat time-consuming and once again, your patience and a specialized arsenal of gear will be required. But if you are serious about improving your chef skills, you can follow these steps for a perfect smoked fish:
1. Buy (Or Make) A Smoker
This might go without saying but to smoke your fish, you will need to have a smoker or a smoke house ready and prepped. Smokers come in all different shapes and sizes and with varying price ranges too. If this is your first time smoking anything, you might want to start by investing in a smaller and more cost-effective appliance.
Alternatively, you can also make your own smoking device. DIY enthusiasts have used everything from flower pots and beer kegerators to brick-built smokehouses to design their own fully-functioning smokers. If you have the right tools and hardware lying around (and enough time), then you could take this route too.
Once you have your smoker and have mastered the art of how it works, then you can move onto the next step.
2. Clean The Fish
Clean your fish like you would when preparing it for grilling and searing. Remove the head, fins, tail, and guts before washing it in clean water. When clearing out the guts, try doing so while still keeping the body intact.
Now, set your fish aside and prepare your saltwater brine.
3. Prepare A Salt Water Brine
Many might question this step but soaking fish in brine water has a huge effect on the end result. The salt water solution helps to remove patches from the skin so that the meat not only tastes good but looks good when served too. It also softens the muscles of the fish, making the meat softer for a delicious “melt-in-your-mouth” experience.
To prepare your brine water, simply add 2.5 tablespoons to every cup of water, and use one cup of water for every pound of fish you are preparing. Soak the fish in this brine solution for about 45 minutes, leaving it in for a little longer if the meat is very thick.
It’s at this point that you could add extra ingredients to your brine water to infuse the fish with other flavors. Only do this if you already have some practice smoking meat and trying out new recipes.
4. Place The Fish In The Smoker
Once you have removed your meat from the salt water brine, rinse it in cold water and then gently pat it dry with some paper towels. Prepare your smoker according to the guidelines of the make you have and then place this fish onto the smoking rack with the skin side down.
Before you place the fish onto the grill, you might want to try out a few recipes. By smoking your fish with other ingredients, you can customize the end flavor. If you are still a novice at smoking your meals, then we recommend that you stick to the basics before giving more complex recipes a go.
5. Monitor The Temperature
When smoking the perfect fish, the correct temperatures will determine the outcome. At first, you’ll set your smoker to a relatively low temperature (plus/minus 150 degrees) and after about 2 hours of smoking, you can then increase to 200 degrees or more. Your fish will need to smoke for at least 3 hours if you want it to come out soft, tender, and with the perfect smoky taste.
* Many expert cooks advise that you should leave your fish in the smoker for three hours plus an additional 30 minutes for every extra pound.
A well-prepared smoked fish will be flaky and cooked all the way through to the center. You can cut into the middle to check if it has been cooked well or you can use a thermometer for a more discrete method. Once the meat has been cooked to your preferred standard, it’s time to whip it out of the smoker.
Smoked fish is best served with a slice of lemon and rice or you could even use it in a tantalizing fish bake dish. If you do not intend on eating the prepared meat right away, use a vacuum sealer and store it in the refrigerator (it should keep for one week, depending on the type of fish).
When you place that soft, juicy, and flavorful piece of fish into your mouth, you will appreciate your fishing excursions so much more – learning how to smoke your own catch can be quite the fulfilling experience.