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Thread: smoking fish

  1. #1
    Member Col. F Rodder's Avatar
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    Default smoking fish

    This is my first go at smoking fish, going in the brine tomorrow. Have a commerical smoker at work that is mainly used for ribs and bisket but allows me to regulate temp great.
    I have read mixed reviews about wash off fish or not? What is your recommended preference. Pat with a towel and let air dry a few hours before smoking.

    Thanks for everyones help in advance

  2. #2
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    NEVER

    a towel wipe is all it takes; if you use paper towels, you pay; if you use "fish towels" that you have set aside specifically for the task, you wash

    THE ONLY WATER MY SMOKED FISH GETS WAS THE ONE WHERE IT WAS HAULED OUT, AND THE WET BRINE WHERE IT CURES OVERNIGHT

    Rosenberg; Sarasota, FL
    "Two decades researching and defining fishing opportunities in the Last Frontier!"


  3. #3

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    No hard and fast rule. It depends on the brine, the species, time of season the fish is taken (early vs late), even the smoke volume and humidity and air temperature unless your smoker has controls for those. Those all affect the results from the smoker. There are whole big books written on smoking, and though they're good, the guys who turn out the best product get more into the art than the science- small adjustments one way or the other based on experience. Their goal is to turn out the same product from one batch to the next, in spite of changing conditions. Anyone selling you hard and fast rules is likely inexperienced with variable conditions and setting you up to produce an inedible mess when conditions aren't just right for their methods.

    You definitely want to air-dry it before smoking until a "pellicle" or dry surface forms. That prevents juices from leaking out to form a white curd of proteins that looks like hell (cottage cheese almost) even if it doesn't affect taste. In humid weather I've had to resort to an electric fan to dry it enough to form a pellicle. On humid days if you don't pat it down, it may take forever to form a pellicle if you don't use a fan.

    First time with a brine it's a good idea to rinse, just so you don't ruin a batch with too much salt and other flavors. Too little, and you can still use it up while adjusting your methods on the next batch. But too much and you will round file a whole batch of fish while still having to change your ways for the next batch.

  4. #4
    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
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    Rinse, pat dry and let air dry until it looks glazed. Slow smoke a low temp using alder, apple or cherry wood for the best flavor. Smoking time depends on the smoker temp and the moisture level desired when finished. I've found that the slower and colder the smoke, the better the flavor, but it takes much longer to smoke. I only smoke fish in the winter to help keep the heat down and my heating element on to keep my wood chips burning. Rotate your fish in the smoker to keep the fillets closest to to burner or heat from cooking.
    “Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." ~Calvin Coolidge~

  5. #5
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Col. F Rodder View Post
    This is my first go at smoking fish, going in the brine tomorrow. Have a commerical smoker at work that is mainly used for ribs and bisket but allows me to regulate temp great.
    I have read mixed reviews about wash off fish or not? What is your recommended preference. Pat with a towel and let air dry a few hours before smoking.

    Thanks for everyones help in advance
    I don't like smoked fish that is too salty, and because of that I do give a VERY quick rinse and usually use a fan to glaze the fish over. One thing that I don't do now (that I used to) is leave the fish in the brine too long.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  6. #6
    Member NeverLand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    No hard and fast rule. It depends on the brine, the species, time of season the fish is taken (early vs late), even the smoke volume and humidity and air temperature unless your smoker has controls for those. Those all affect the results from the smoker. There are whole big books written on smoking, and though they're good, the guys who turn out the best product get more into the art than the science- small adjustments one way or the other based on experience. Their goal is to turn out the same product from one batch to the next, in spite of changing conditions. Anyone selling you hard and fast rules is likely inexperienced with variable conditions and setting you up to produce an inedible mess when conditions aren't just right for their methods.

    You definitely want to air-dry it before smoking until a "pellicle" or dry surface forms. That prevents juices from leaking out to form a white curd of proteins that looks like hell (cottage cheese almost) even if it doesn't affect taste. In humid weather I've had to resort to an electric fan to dry it enough to form a pellicle. On humid days if you don't pat it down, it may take forever to form a pellicle if you don't use a fan.

    First time with a brine it's a good idea to rinse, just so you don't ruin a batch with too much salt and other flavors. Too little, and you can still use it up while adjusting your methods on the next batch. But too much and you will round file a whole batch of fish while still having to change your ways for the next batch.
    This is right on. The only thing I would ad is that it depends on individual taste. When I smoke salmon I have to make two batches, one for me and one for the wife. Some people like it hard, some soft, some salty, some not. Occasionally we like it a little spicy. Experimenting with different techniques is part of the fun.

  7. #7
    Member Music Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeverLand View Post
    Some people like it hard, some soft, some salty, some not. Occasionally we like it a little spicy. Experimenting with different techniques is part of the fun.
    And you smoke fish too.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
    '08 24' HCM Granite HD "River Dog"

  8. #8
    Member Albradley's Avatar
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    Doesn't this thread belong in alaska pantry?
    There's a fine line between fishing....

    and standing on the shore like an idiot! ALLEN BRADLEY-TANGLE LAKES ADVOCATE/FANBOY

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