How to Smoke Trout and Other Fresh-Caught Fish
Fishing Is Only Half The Fun
Now that the fishing and catching has taken place, you might be wondering what to do with all of the trout and salmon you caught. I know that is where I am with it. The bigger fish provide a lot of meat, and there are many different ways to prepare and preserve it. With the cost of food skyrocketing, it is a good thing to know how to preserve the extra fish you caught. Today I am going to detail how to smoke trout. This item is quite costly in the grocery stores. I saw smoked salmon selling for about $8.00 for 8 oz. just the other day. That is enough to motivate me to get the smoker prepped and ready for a few pounds of fresh fish. Below, I out what would be needed.
- A smoker grill
- hickory chips
- Fish, trout or salmon work out well with this method
- olive oil
- brown sugar
- regular salt (no iodine)
- a drying rack
- a large bowl
- a small bowl
Step One: Prepare Twelve Hours In Advance
I did this part the night before I planned to smoke the fish. I put the cut up fillet of fish in the brine mixture and covered it tight with plastic wrap. Put the dish in the fridge to marinate. I put my hickory chips in a bowl of water. Then I had to season the smoker as it was new and never used. This takes about two hours. This smoker required a complete coating of vegetable oil for all internal parts, excluding the charcoal pan. The smoker then had to be burned for a couple of hours. I built a small fire and added a few chips of hickory. What this does is season the smoker in preparation for using it. The next morning I emptied the fire pan and started a fire to smoke the fish.
Step Two: Brine and Soak Fish Overnight
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup regular salt (not iodized)
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 qts.water
Stir in a large mixing bowl water and all the above ingredients. Mix until all is dissolved and add a fish fillet cut into 2 inch sections. The fillet I used weighed about 2.5-3 lbs. This is my first time smoking fish so I am not going to try more than one fillet without seeing how this recipe turns out. This amount worked well, and I used the remaining liquid as water for my smoker's drip pan.
Step Three: Fire Up The Cooker
I placed a large amount of charcoal into the fire pan and sprayed the coals with charcoal starter fluid. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and then added enough starter fluid to ignite. It took this smoker about 20 minutes to get hot. Then I put the water pan on and let it start heating. When it all looked good I put the Hickory chips on the fire. Be careful to use long handled tongues and an oven mitt to protect yourself from burns. I suggest always follow the instructions that come with the smoker unit. Be safe.
Step Four: Finish Setting Up The Smoker
I placed the fish on a rack so that it could drain real good while I was setting up the rest of the smoker. I put the marinade in the water pan and placed the water pan inside the smoker. I added additional water to the pan so that it was 3/4 of the way full. I had to add additional water about 1.5 hours into smoking the fish. This pan serves to catch drippings from the meat and also to add moisture during the smoking process. I suggest keeping plenty of liquid in the water pan to add ease when it comes time to clean the smoker. If you let the pan dry it will be harder to clean burned on foods.
Step Five: Let The Smoke Do The Trick
Now I have never smoked any kind of meat before so I was a little anxious about giving this a try. I placed the chunks of fish on to the top grate so that none of the pieces were touching. This allows maximum flow of air resulting in the smoke being distributed evenly during the cooking process. I also left the skin on the Trout when it was cleaned. I did this so that the meat did not fall apart when it was being moved. The Trout gets so tender that it will crumble at a touch. The skin serves as a sort of plate for each piece of fish. This worked out very good for this recipe.
I also added some additional coarse ground pepper to the fish right before I put the smoker lid on. It was not in the recipe to do so but, I like black pepper and thought it would enhance the flavor. Each piece was given a good dusting to ensure plenty of the peppery flavor in the finished product.
Step Six: Three Hour Of Slow Smoking
I tied to keep my heat inside the smoker at a low temperature as I wanted the fish to continue to dry. Fish is very delicate and my common sense told me to keep the fire hot but keep it on the slow side. It took a total of three hours and I had to add water to the drip pan. I also added more wood chips about halfway through the process. The good thing about smoking food is that you put the lid on the smoker and leave it alone. I kept an eye on my temperature gauge and that was about it. You should NOT lift the lid of the smoker as this will allow heat to escape.
You will have to check it periodically. I waited 1.5 hours and then checked it. I decided that I would like for the fish to be dryer at that point. I added more water to the pan and that is when I put the additional Hickory chips on. I replaced the lid and let the fire basically burn down. This took another 1.5 hours. When the temperature started dropping because my fire was dying I called it done.
I am here to tell you that this Trout turned out so good it was worth every second I spent in researching and preparing this food. My Mother declared that this should be the only way to cook Trout as it is the VERY BEST! I would suggest this delicious fish to anyone who enjoys food fit for the gods. This trout turned out perfect the first try. Happy smoking!