Northern Pike Brine and Smoking

Discussion in 'Fish' started by flightmedic22, Dec 26, 2015.

  1. Here in South Dakota we don't have much in the way of Salmon or trout, but what we do have are tons of Northern Pike. Most people around these parts view them as a nuscence and hardly ever harvest them. With that being said, it is usually fairly easy to land some quite nice specimens of the snarled tooth snake fish. Personally I grew up eating whatever it was we caught, and Northern Pike was definitely on the menu. Most people do not like them because they are a quite oily and a strong fishy tasting fish.

    I've done some experimenting with different seasonings, brine and smokes, and this is what has come of all of that. Funny thing is, is that most people when I tell them that it is Northern they're scarfing down, they tend not to believe me, until I flip the fish over and show them the skin.

    Hope this might help someone use a fish around you, that you may otherwise have thrown back and not enjoyed.

    4 quarts water
    1.5 - 2 cups Tender Quick
    1 Tblspn Garlic Powder
    1 Tblspn Onion Powder
    1 Tblspn Black Pepper
    1 tspn Cayenne Pepper
    1 tspn White Pepper
    1 tspn Sage Powder
    1/2 tspn Rosemary

    I generally get about 4 cups of water boiling, add the seasonings and continue the bold for about five minutes. Remove from heat and cool with ice, then add the rest of the water to equal the 4 quarts.

    Let fish brine for at least six hours, the longer the better.

    After brining,  rinse and sprinkle with Black Pepper and Paprika.

    Let fish filets air dry on a rack, until pectin film develops on the outside.

    Place in hot smoker, 225 degrees, for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until the filet has a clean "break" in the meat.

    Let cool to room temperature, on a cooling rack.

    Seal and refrigerate,  or enjoy fresh with favorite cheese and crackers. 
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  2. If we ever get decent ice here, I'll have to try this.
  3. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    Thanks for sharing the recipe.  I've done trout and salmon, which I use a maple syrup, sweeter brine for.  Been wanting to smoke something lighter like white fish and been looking for the right brine.

  4. I hear ya. Hating this winter so far. Haven't even gotten my shack out of storage yet. Good luck, and stay safe on that ice this year, if ya make it out.
  5. You are very welcome. Hope ya like it.
  6. it's my own fault, I picked up a new spear house and ice saw this fall. I jinxed all ice fishermen by doing so!
  7. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    FM22, I like the taste of pike BUT not the bones, are you filleting the pike? Does the brine dissolve the bones or are you picking them out ?
  8. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic


    I hear ya. Love the pike hate the bones

  9. I just knock the whole fillet off either side of the fish, bones and all. The brine does not disolve the bones at all. After the filets are smoked, the chunks of meat between the bones will break cleanly from the bones. It is very easy to separate the two with a fork. My rule of thumb is that I won't keep a fish smaller than 30 inches in total length. That will also help identify the bones easier. Plus you'll have nice little hunk of deliciousness perfect for a cracker and piece of your favorite cheese.
  10. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    FM22, thanks for the tips and recipe!
  11. No problem. Happy fishing and smoking. Let me know if it works out for ya, or if ya have any other questions.
    crazymoon likes this.
  12. mkriet

    mkriet Smoking Fanatic

    FM22, I'm in Ohio and we don't really have pike here, but we do a lot of fishing on Lake Erie, and catch quite a few walleye.  Have you ever tried smoking walleye?  If so, did it work?  We get some pretty big walleye in Erie, so the fillets can be as big as some smaller salmon fillets.  

  13. thoseguys26

    thoseguys26 Master of the Pit

    I love the taste of pike. Tinfoil bake or smoke, stuffed with butter, onions, herbs, etc until the whole spine and bones pull out with one full swoop. We also pickle a lot of pike and that dissolves the bones. Tough to beat pickled pike!
  14. Oh how I envy you. I have always wanted to fish Walleye on Erie. It's on my bucket list for sure. Now that the jealousy has settled some, we have a ton of Walleye here in SD also. Actually it is our state fish. Most of the walleye I catch get either baked or deep fried. I have not personally smoked any yet, although a very good friend of mine, who I taught how to smoke Northern Pike, did do a nice fat eye one day. He followed the same recipe, and said that it did turn out excellent. Unfortunately I didn't get to sample any. Another good buddy of mine used this same method on perch and said that it turned out pretty well. Obviously had to adjust the cooking time with the smaller fish. I'd say give it a try. It seems to have worked for some. Just keep a close watch on the cooking time, and wait for that clean break in the meat.

    And if you ever need help rounding up some of those pigs from the lake, give me a call.
  15. I know a lot of people around here pickle pike also. I've just never cared much for pickled anything. I have a serious aversion to vinegar. Try smoking some, and you may another favorite way to prepare the snarled toothed lake snakes.
  16. mkriet

    mkriet Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah, everyone wishes they could be else where. I would love to get our west sometime. My dad went out to Devils lake for perch about ten years ago. I would love to catch some of those monster perch. But perch are far too good fried to smoke in my opinion.

    Anyway, about smoking fish. When it gets to the point of a clean break, how do you know when that is? Or do you just try out a piece?

    Also, do you freeze this stuff? Or is it vacuum sealed and refrigerated? And how long will it keep?

    As far as going to Erie, there is no ice fishing this year so far, but that is when they really get the big ones. If you did want to go sometime my Dad is good friends with a very good guide up there. He drives you out, puts you in a shanty for the day, cooks lunch, and brings you back in. If you're serious about going iI can get you hooked up with him. He has a lot of guys that come from WI, MN etc.
  17. Might just have to take ya up on the information for fishing sometime. Would love to go with my dad sometime. Will definitely stay in touch about that.

    Anyways about the break. Just use a fork to gently pull at a natural separation of the meat. When pulls or "breaks" apart cleanly and easily it is cooked. Think of how fish that is fried or baked separates. Also look for that nice white color like normally cooked fish.

    As for storage, I vacuum seal it and refrigerate. I've never frozen it. I have kept it refrigerated and sealed for six weeks, and it was still excellent.

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