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How to brine/prepare sablefish for smoking?

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  • How to brine/prepare sablefish for smoking?

    Brought home about 26 pounds of sablefish fillets from my family trip in July ... all the salmon and halibut went with my moms friends, but I wasn't about to let loose of my deep-water prizes!!

    We grilled some of it, but I would like to smoke the rest. Anyone have recommendations on how best to brine or otherwise prep the fillets for smoking? Likewise, is there a particular type of wood chips that best bring out the flavor? Ideal smoking temp & time?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I've been running my smoker lately to clear out the last fillets from last year. The rest get pressure cooked into Mason jars for long term shelf life...which is as fast as I can make salmon salad for fish tacos all the time.

    this link is a good resource.

    of all the brine recipes I've tried, they all call for tooooo much salt. It might be that we use Real Salt brand which is produced locally. And it may be strong salt. Not sure. But I always cut back the called for salt content by half or more..

    My last batch was this homebrew brine recipe. A cup of Yoshidas teriyaki marinade, a cup of brown sugar, a 1/3 cup of lemon juice and a table spoon of salt, a table spoon of True Lime powder. Overnight soak chunks or sliced fillets pieces. Drain in the AM, air dry a short while to a sticky glaze. Fire up the smoker with alder chips and get to smokin! Chips can be mesquite, hickory, apple or alder. Alder is just my preference. 120, 160, temps for an hour each, finish off with 200. Depends on your smoker size. Mine is small and smokes hot and quick. Keep an eye on it or you'll make fish jerky in no time. Don't ask me how my salmon jerky tastes. It's good just needs more drink with it. Second batch last week was just right. Poured a little Hawaiian coconut syrup over it as it came out and when cool vacuum sealed most of it up and into the freezer. Thaw and eat.

    good luck with your sablefish.

    PS..i see you're down in Texas. Mesquite would be a natural choice. alder is available at Sam's or Costco in the form of salmon grilling planks. Split them and break into long slivers. Works great.


    • #3
      Alder is the best wood for smoking fish. Mesquite and Hickory are too strong for fish and are more suitable for meats. Black cod is so rich and oily, that other than a nice salty brine, the fish really takes care of itself for flavor. I would just use a simple salt/brown sugar brine. Add some yoshidas just to liven things up; but really it's not too necessary when smoking. I prefer to marinate my black cod pretty heavily when grilling; but smoking adds enough flavor as is.

      Just find a brine recipe for smoked salmon that you like, and use your black cod instead. I've found that less is more when brining fish. Salt/sugar is all you need. Brine your fish for X amount of time, and then be sure to pat it dry and let it air dry on racks for a while to form the pellicule layer on the outside. Smoke until done. Should be fantastic eating. I love black cod. I always refer to it as the "King crab of fish".


      • #4
        The problem with alder for smoking is that if you over smoke it, or if your alder is not suitably cured you'll get a bitter bite. I like to use Apple for smoking fish and I like to finish black cod with a maple syrup glaze right in the last half hour of smoking

        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
        Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"


        • #5
          I smoke both my salmon and halibut with hickory.
          They taste great. Other people really like it as well.
          I wouldn't hesitate to use it for any kind of fish.
          I posted a smoked halibut recipe on here awhile back that would probably do well for blackcod
          I'll have to look it up again.
          "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

          "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"


          • #6
            I tried smoking some rockfish, it turned out good. 4\1 brown sugar to salt dry brine, smoked with alder. Not sablefish, but I think the results would be similar
            Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation


            • #7
              Zeek, your PM box is full.


              • #8
                Originally posted by AaronP View Post
                Zeek, your PM box is full.
                Deleted some messages. Try again please


                • #9
                  I would use the same brine that you would use for salmon, but overweight it slightly on the sweeter side (add more brown sugar than the brine recipes calls for). It's easy to make black cod taste really salty, which is pretty off-putting. Do not crank your smoker up to 200 degrees, you'll end up with a smoker fire (been there done that). I do 110 (1hr), 120 (1hr), 130(1hr) then 140(1hr) and they're done after that. I like to use a brine that has soy sauce, the end product looks nicely roasted.

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