Smoking Steelhead Trout Question

Discussion in 'Fish' started by micklouie, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. I would like to use my smoker to cook some steelhead trout for xmas. I don't want the typical cold smoked fish but cook it like you would on a bbq grille. I don't want to brine, let rest, and cook at 170 degrees. 

    Can I season the fish and crank up my smoker to 325-375 and cook traditionally?

    I do a pretty good job on my grille cooking fish in a tin foil packet and want to try my smoker.

    I want to get a good smoky flavor.

    I purchased some slabs from Sam's today.

    And advice?

  2. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hopefully someone with experience will chime in, but I don't see why you couldn't try doing a hot smoke maybe around 300+* with the steelhead on the grill or maybe on a cedar plank?  Just don't know how well the smoke will stick to the fish unless it had been brined, rinsed and dried before hand but what the heck? Give it a try.  Just be sure it is cooked until the internal temp reaches 145*.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
  3. Steelhead are one of my favorites, mainly because they're more full-flavored, which the Mrs. doesn't like, which equals more for me.......   I've always brined them in a basic sugar/salt mix, and do them at about 225. depending on the thickness, they usually don't take much more that about 2 hours. Doesn't leave much time for the smoky taste, so if you do them even hotter, I don't think you'll get much, unless you use a really aromatic wood, like mesquite or hickory. Personally, i don't like that flavor with fish, usually go with alder, apple, something like that.

    But, that's the wonder of smoking, no 2 are the same, and so far they've all been edible!!

    Happy smoking!
  4. ia hunter

    ia hunter Newbie

    While you most certainly can do it at 300-350, you will not get much smoke flavor... Not that it is a bad thing, grilled or baked steelhead is great! But if you are wanting a smoke flavor but not "smoked", then drop down to 250 and use a rich smoke like hickory. I have done both large fillets and whole rainbow that way, it is pretty good and a great way to use the smoker in a pinch. You do not need a brine if you are going to do it fast. Now realize it won't take long at all! For a typical sized fillet, maybe 20-30 minutes? Possibly an hour if the fish is thick and cold. At 350 it will take about 15 minutes for standard "medium rare" salmon (steelhead is in the salmon family but is really a big water rainbow trout). If you like your fish fully cooked and flaky then maybe 20-25 minutes. 

    Personally, I like to brine 2-6 hours in a basic salt/brown sugar brine and then smoke at 160-180 with 50/50 apple/hickory. Takes about 3 hours for whole small rainbows, or 1.5 hours for fillets. I actually have some wild caught whole rainbows (gutted of course)  brining right now that I will rinse shortly and get ready for the smoker in the morning. After they are cooked I peel the skin and pull the meat off the bones. With a little dill weed and some cracked black pepper it makes a fantastic snack with some good crackers! 

    If you do it at 250+ be sure to season the fish well, as you are pretty much just baking it in a smoker. You will need some seasoning to help impart some flavor that will be lost by not smoking for a longer time. 

    Good luck and enjoy your trout! 
  5. smokinadam

    smokinadam Smoking Fanatic

    I agree that lower temp will be better so you get more smoke flavor. I did steelhead a few months ago at 225 for about a hour and it was done and moist. I like to say I marinate it not brine it but I use third cup of soy, brown sugar, and little water/worcheshire mix. Then typically place little pepper on it or your seasoning selection. I do not use any salt because of the soy sauce and found adding salt makes it sometimes unbearable.

    Cook it hot you will be done quickly. I do salmon on my weber and usually have it at 300 when I do it that way and it's done in 15 minutes. Not even worth getting any chunks burning.

    Good luck and merry christmas

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