For the most part, I grew up fishing. My grandparents lived on a lake in Indiana, and every time we would go visit, I would wake up early, head out to their pier, and start catching fish. My dad would often times clean the fish and we would head back to their home, fry them up, and eat them for breakfast. That has always been a good memory. As I grew older, my parents got into boating and fishing and we would spend long or short weekends in northern Wisconsin, fishing. Everyone would often help cleaning the fish, and we would be back at it, cooking the daily catch and having it for dinner. There is always something to be said about that.
When my wife and I got together, she would tell me her fish stories. Her family did not grow up a fishing family, as a matter of fact, I think they did very little of it. However, they loved fish, and one story she has is that when she would travel to visit cousins, her parents would insist that she bring them smoked fish from Port Washington, Wisconsin. She would have to bring a carry on of smoked fish! I’ve tried that fish, and not only was it wonderful, it had a phenomenal smoke smell. A smoke that if brought on a plane would get some heads turning!
That wonderful smoked fish that my in-laws would travel close to a hour for no longer exists, and based on those stories, and the memories of how great that smoked fish was, I decided to provide my take on smoked fish for my wife. No travelling necessary. Furthermore, I ended up smoking more trout that weekend and freezing it for later use, it was just that good.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- 4 fresh trout, gutted, skin on
- 1 gallon cold water
- 2/3 cups of brown sugar
- 1 cup of kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 cup of cherry wood chips, soaked in water for 2 hours
Start by adding the water, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, and garlic to a large enough container where you can fully submerge the trout. Stir the mixture to get all of the salt to dissolve. This is your fish brine and will have an impact on the fish. It will add a bit of flavor, while at the same time keeping the fish moist throughout the smoking process. Once dissolved, add the trout, place a cover on the container and place in a refrigerator for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, remove the fish from the brine, and rinse the fish off under cold water. Pat the fish with some paper towel to remove some of the water.
Your next step is to get your smoker going. I use a drum smoker, and use charcoal as my base, and when the coals are heated, put the water pan in the middle layer, top rack, and lay on the fish. Cover the smoker, add the soaked wood chips on and around the heated charcoal, and cook on medium-low for about 3 hours.
Due to the fact that trout are fairly small is size, they do not take that long to cook. Keep an eye on the temperature, and your result should be a fish that is not dried out, but firm and ready to go. The meat should be opaque.
When the trout is cooked, remove it from the smoker, and let it come to room temperature.
Now, the possibilities are endless. I enjoy how my wife and her family grew up eating smoked fish. Basically grab a fish, put it on your plate, add a bit of cooked rice as a side, and dig in. The smell is nothing but amazing and the texture and flavor of the fish is phenomenal.
Other ideas are to use some of the fish in salads, pastas, or sandwiches. However you use this smoked fish, I am certain you will enjoy!