let's talk about trout

Discussion in 'Fish' started by tasunkawitko, May 27, 2008.

  1. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Following is what I have learned about smoking trout so far. I am by no means an expert, but I have had good results evolving the method below and continue to learn. I use the Little and Big Chief electric smokehouses, so your mileage may vary; also, there is no reason why this method shouldn’t work for any fish – experimentation leads to success!

    Most trout do not need to be filleted but I prefer them that way. A good way to fillet trout for smoking is to fillet down each side to the tail, leaving it on and attached, cutting the skeleton off from the very base of the tail. After you fillet, carefully fillet the rib bones out, sliding your fillet knife underneath them. This will take care of most, if not all of the bones. In all cases involving trout, I prefer to leave skin on, but be sure to scale your fish; if you don't, you will wish you had.

    I have had excellent luck using a simple brine consisting of 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt (or soy sauce), 1/2 cup of white sugar (or, better yet, try brown sugar, honey, maple syrup etc.) and 2 cups of good-quality warm water (or apple juice). Stir together in a gallon jar or other non-metal, non-wood container, making sure to completely dissolve the salts and sugars, then add any of your favorite herbs and a few crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. I have also added garlic, onion, wine, tabasco and other spices with good results; you are limited only by your tastes, your imagination and what is in your kitchen. Be careful of the salt content because it is easy to have too much salt. Use fresh seasonings and reduced-salt or salt-free whenever you can, but do not use salt substitutes. When all is dissolved, add two cups of cold water or apple juice and stir. Add your trout fillets and at least a quart of water (have I mentioned that I really like to substitute apple juice?); depending on the amount of trout fillets you can usually simply fill the gallon jar. Brine at least 12 hours or overnight; be sure to stir or mix the contents periodically for good coverage.

    When this is done, lightly rinse each fillet or fish in cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Hang fish fillet-side-out by the connected tail on a rack. You can also forget the tail thing and simply lay the fillets skin-side-down on a rack or grill. If you are smoking whole trout, prop the bellies open with a toothpick or similar object and lay the fish on their side or hang them head-down. The rinsing step is not absolutely necessary if you prefer saltier tastes, but I do this as I would rather taste the spices and seasonings than the salt. Rinsing will not remove the flavors of your other seasonings; trout seems to hold the flavors of herbs and spices well. No matter what seasonings I had put into the brine, I also like to sprinkle a modest amount of crushed bay leaves and crushed red peppers on the fish when the time comes to smoke; try this, or perhaps dill or some other herb according to your tastes.

    Wait an hour or so for the pellicle (a shiny, tacky “skin†on the surface of the fish) to form, then smoke your trout according to the smoker manufacturer’s instructions. Do not under any circumstances use pine, spruce, fir or other soft woods; my own preferred wood for smoking trout is maple, but apple, cherry and of course alder work very well. I am sure there are many choices that I haven't even thought of, including almost any fruit tree. Alder blended with any of the above is very nice and particularly suited for fish. Most trout has a very mellow taste, so it takes and holds smoke well. You can smoke as much as you want but medium is probably best; for the “Chief†smokers, two pans of chips are just about perfect.

    After the smoking process, keep the fish over wet or dry heat depending on your smoker until done. I prefer that my fillets be still a bit moist with the meat opaque and flaking; the important thing is that the fish reaches 160 degrees or so for at least a half-hour. Some prefer to continue drying the fish until it is similar to jerky; I have tried this and it is good with an intense, smoky flavor, but to me it is not nearly as versatile as leaving it moist. Keep in mind that the dryer the fish, the longer the shelf-life.

    Your smoked trout can be eaten by itself or in any way you want. Peel it off the skin or, if smoked whole, peel off the skin and lift the meat right off the bones. Try it on crackers with cheese, or flake it up so it resembles canned tuna (but not nearly as moist, of course), then mix it with cream cheese or sour cream and finely-chopped green onions. Add a dash of salt-n-pepper, onion or garlic powder, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice or whatever you want. The result will be an excellent dip or spread that will have the neighbors, the co-workers at the office or the relatives bugging you for more.
  2. lownslow

    lownslow Smoke Blower

    Great post, just what I was looking for. Do you keep the fish at room temp for the above step? What temp do you like to smoke your trout at?

    I only have 2 smokes under my belt and trout is the next on the list [​IMG]
  3. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    g'morning, lownslow -

    in answer to your first question, we have an enclosed front porch, and i do the air-drying/pellicle forming step there. in the summer, i have the windows open for circulation of air, which helps to speed the process, but in the latter part of the year, it just sits there or somtimes i have put a fan on low. the temperature i guess would be room temperature, but i do try to keep it out of direct sunlight.

    i am also rather new at smoking and up until now never really paid much attention to the temperature in my smoker. the luhr jensen/smokehouse smokers have no way to read or control temperature (although i did get a thermometer this week and plan to install before my next smoke). i do know that according to the instructions, they are factory "tuned" to smoke and dry whatever you are smoking, and the product will reach 165 degrees. usually, when i smoke fish, i'll run the two or three pans of smoke, then for convenience i will put them in the oven at the "warm" setting (i believe this is about 175) until they look "finished." i am sorry that i cannot be more specific, but after a few smokes with the thermometer i should be able to give some more info on this. for now, the best way to sum it up when it comes to fish is to smoke and continue the heat until it's done.
  4. daveyhunter

    daveyhunter Fire Starter

    This sounds like a very good recipe, I am going to give it a try Fri. the 13th

    Thanks Daveyhunter
  5. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent post my friend. I use to eat a lot of fresh trout when I lived in Kalispell. Beautiful state you live, It's my favorite.
  6. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    very good post indeed. I catch alot of trout, but don't smoke as much as I used to. The "chief" smokers are great for fish. I have owned 2 in the past.

    I do my trout a lil differently. I probably catch bigger trout than Tasunka, but thats why they call me captain![​IMG]
    Our trout and salmon here in SW michigan come from the great lakes and connecting rivers and streams, and the minimum size is 10" in the lakes, 15" in the rivers(when the fish are there) Salmon, steelhead(rainbow) lake trout and brown trout are the catch.I love smoked salmon, lake trout and steelhead, Lake trout and whitefish are my favorites though. These fish average 2-4 lbs for the whitefish, and 5-15 lbs for the lake trout. I like to fillet the fish and leave the skin and scales on, but wash very well before brining. The scales stay on the skin nicely, and aid in the removal of both after smoking. I also like to use very small needle nose pliers or tweezers to pull out the pin bones from the front half of the fish sections, so that the whole fillet is boneless and edible without getting stabbed.

    here is my favorite brine recipe for salmon, steelhead,or brown trout.

    1/3 cup sugar
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup non iodized salt
    1/2 tsp of white pepper
    1/2 tsp of garlic powder
    1/2 tsp of onion powder
    1/4 tsp of dry mustard powder
    1 cup white wine
    2 cups soy sauce
    1 tsp tobasco.

    after the smoke, and the racks are removed from the smoker to cool, I sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar on the warm fillets, and let the fish cool. It gives it a light candy type tack to it. after it is refrigerated, most of the stickyness is absorbed into the flesh of the fish.

    when the meat is almost cool enogh for the fridge, I remove the skin, it pulls off in one piece. If there are any dark blood veins,or mudlines(lateral line that all fish have) I use a fork or spoon and scrape that meat out of the center of the fillet. It won't hurt you, but it less desireable to eat.

    I hope someone tries this recipe too, and posts some results.

    Tasunka, I hope you don't feel like I highjacked your thread![​IMG]
  7. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    guys - thanks for the replies!

    capt dan! absolutely no need to apologize! when i posted this thread, i was hoping we would get a good discussion going about how folks do this. i am still learning and am always eager to learn more on it. good suggestions and your brine recipe looks like it would be worth a try! :)

    the trout around here average 13-17 inches, but there are of course larger and smaller ones. every now and then they seem to go through a cycle and you will get some that are around 27 inches, but that is rare and in waters not normally fished, it seems.
  8. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Dang , thanks for the reminder , being wed on Fri. the 13th , we get to enjoy these random aniverserarys evry now and again , almost missed this one [​IMG]

    Now back to the regularly schedualed thread about smoking trout [​IMG]
  9. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Been a while since I've had trout , kinda leery of most of the water around home [​IMG] Got a camp in the woods and get a few small brookies and browns though . They don't last long enough to make it back home to the smoker though.
    I kinda resemble the guy on the right here [​IMG]
  10. doctor phreak

    doctor phreak Smoking Fanatic

    i am going to try to do some trout fishing this year ..i think the season is already over with here.....good news is that i live right next door to 2 lakes and the smaller one they are now stocking it with brown trout so i might have to grab my pole and reeboks and walk over there and try it out since i live roughy 1/16 mile away from it.....
  11. Anybody ever tried to smoke any salt water species like Redfish ,Speckled trout ,or Flounder? I was in Mexico one time and we had a big Marlin dye on use and a man in town smoked it and it was unbelievable.
  12. Well ya, but it's poaching season year 'round.
  13. abelman

    abelman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yeah, the best fish I have smoked is Mahi Mahi/Dorado/Dolphin...take your pick for the name:
  14. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    looks VERY good!

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