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Smoked Fish: A Simple Science that Hits the Spot

Posted by on Friday, April 5th, 2019

Old barrels work as grill in Seychelles, Indian Ocean, Africa. Grilled fish and chicken are part of the Seychellois Creole cuisine, which combines the exoticism of Indian and Asian dishes with the European culinary culture. The Seychellois Creole culinary expression is an unique fusion of Asian, European and African influences.

Smoking fish has been around for thousands of years. Originally, people used it as way to preserve the meat. Today, seafood lovers can create a unique, rich, smoky flavor right at home, and with dozens of varieties available year-round from Pucci Foods, preservation is not a concern. Those mouth-watering smoky delicacies can go straight from the smoker to the dinner plate. 

While any fish can be thrown in the smoker, the rule of thumb is to stick to fattier fish, because they will absorb more of that distinctive flavor. Salmon, Kingfish, Tuna and Herring are great options. 

Below are a few smoked fish brines to try out this Spring. Keep in mind that in addition to brining you should also season the fish before you smoke it. Leave the skin on, so the smoky flavor can better infuse the meat. And while most types of wood will work, alder or fruit woods are tried and true choices that come recommended by the experts. 

Sweet, Savory and a Hint of Heat

Ingredients:

  1. 2 Quarts water
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 cup apple juice
  4. 1/2 cup salt
  5. 1 cup soy sauce
  6. 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  7. 1/4 teaspoon onion salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 4-5 dashes hot sauce 

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and stir to dissolve.
  2. Brine your fish for 6-8 hours in thin chunks or average filets. Brine longer for whole fish in the refrigerator.
  3. Remove the fish from the brine and place on your smoking racks with air circulating around them.
  4. This brine makes enough to cure 12-15 three pound trout or salmon.
  5. Set your smoker at 200 degrees and let it smoke for 2 hours so the fish reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees F. The fish should hold this temp of 160 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.

Adapted from marinatemebaby.com

Simple Smoking Brine

Ingredients:

4-5 pound fillets, skin on

4 cups warm water

1 cup soy sauce

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup sea salt

¾ tablespoon powdered garlic

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients together in a large bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. Pour the brine over fillets, making sure they are covered.
  2. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours.
  3. Remove fillets from brine, pat dry with paper towels.
  4. While your smoker heats, arrange fish on racks and let dry for about an hour or until a glaze forms on the surface of the fish.

Adapted from charbroil.com

The Ultimate Adaptable Brine

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds salmon, trout or other fish
  • Birch or maple syrup for basting
  • 1 quart cool water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Feel free to add things, like bay leaves, chiles, thyme, garlic or minced onion

Directions:

  1. Brine the fish for 4-8 hours, depending on size.
  2. Take your fish out of the brine and pat it dry. Set the fillets on your cooling rack, skin side down. Let the fish dry for 2 to 4 hours (or up to overnight in the fridge). You want the surface of the fish to develop a shiny skin called a pellicle. 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.
  3. Smoke your fish. Start with a small fire and work your way up as you go. Start the process between 120°F and 150°F for up to an hour, then finish at 175°F for a final hour or two.
  4. Baste the Fish. After an hour in the smoker, baste the fish with the birch or maple syrup; do this every hour.
  5. 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 a year.

Adapted from honest-food.net