Most people know that adding more fish to their diet is a far healthier way to get vital nutrients into their bodies. It’s packed full of extremely healthy and important omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins that are difficult to get in the same concentration from any other food source.
But did you know that smoking fish preserves a lot more of these nutrients?
Essentially, the much lower heat won’t destroy as much protein, fat, or vitamins, leaving them available for your digestive system to absorb.
Now, rather than rely on buying expensive smoked fish, I have a few simple tips that will help you make it yourself. You’ll be surprised how easy it actually is.
Here are a few things you want to put on your grocery list:
We’ll show you how to use them all shortly, but I would highly recommend getting top quality and even organic ingredients. You will tell the difference in the finished products, and because you only need very few ingredients, it’s not going to work out very expensive.
If you head to your local adventure and outdoor store, you’ll be surprised how cheap you can get a small portable smoker. But you can achieve the same results by buying a few disposable deep tin baking trays made of aluminum.
Alternatively, if you have a charcoal BBQ at home, then you can use that just as effectively.
Step 1. Prepare a brine. This is a basic brine mix but feel free to add any other ingredients:
Step 2. Curing the fish
The curing process is necessary to draw moisture from the fish. Place the brine mixture in a non-metallic dish and marinate the fish for a minimum of two hours, or even up to a couple of days, depending on the thickness of the fish.
The longer you leave the fish in the brine, the saltier it will become, and the longer the fish will be preserved.
Step 3. Allow some air circulation
This step is vital to smoking your fish and will ensure that the smoke has something to hold on to by forming a type of coating on the surface, and properly infusing the fish with flavor. Simply place the brined fish on a cake rack for around two hours in a cool place with air circulation.
Step 4. Smoking the fish
If you don’t have a traditional smoker, you can use any deep tin baking tray or box, although using a barbecue with a lid is just as effective. Let’s say you’re using the barbie, as most people have one.
Place the wood chips or sawdust in a metal container above the burners and under the grill. You can use any hardwood, hickory is the most popular, or use apple, oak or any type of fruit or nut wood chips. (You can buy these from any barbecue retailer, or make them yourself).
Adjust your temperature to around 140 degrees before greasing the grills and placing the fish skin-side down on the grill. The amount of time spent in the smoker will vary with the thickness of the fish, but when it starts to flake, you’ll know it’s done.
Once smoked, your fish will keep for up to ten days in the fridge. But of course it’ll be so delicious, it won’t last that long!
1. Avoid High-Resin Wood
Before you head out to your shed and just grab some winter firewood, make sure you avoid the types of wood that contain a lot of resin like spruce, elm, or deal.
2. Don’t Skip The Brining Process
I’ve done this before while I was in a rush, and the results were not great. You lose a lot of flavors, and you can even end up with a quite rubbery texture.
3. Keep The Temperature Down
Light smoking will only take about an hour at about 270 F. I would recommend going down to under 200 F and extending the time to 2 to 3 hours. The results are far superior.
So, at this stage, you have all the information needed to get your first fish smoked. I recommend trying salmon first as it’s probably something you have tried before and it will help you tell if you’ve done it right or not.
Also, try to do a couple of batches with different types of wood. This will allow you to compare the different flavors created, and you can find your favorite one.
And don’t forget to post some pictures on our Facebook page with a comment about how it worked out for you.