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lakerunner

Smoking Help

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Guys (and gals):

I need some help smoking fish--and no I don't mean buy out all of the rolling papers that you can find, tape them together, and roll the fish!! Although that would be interesting to see.

The only great life-lessons that I didn't learn from my Dad before he passed away was his technique for smoking fish.

I have a smoker (Brinkman charcoal w/ the water bin) and I know he used his same one for his fish. I know how to use the smoker well--I do a lot of turkeys, ham, venison, etc.

The questions that I have deal with the brine and then any glazes. What are some of the various recipes that you guys use for each and how long did you soak the fish in the brine?

My Dad mainly smoked salmon but I caught a 20# laker yesterday and I want to try to smoke. Any help would be great.

Thanks!

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I caught a 20# laker yesterday

Nice fish smile

The only thing I do different with Lakers and Salmon than any other fish, is I lift the lid after about 20-25 minutes of smoking and wipe off the oil that has come to the top. I am not a fan of oily fish like Lakers and Salmon. That's just a personal preference though and has nothing to do with the actual smoking process.

I use a regular brine of equal parts sugar and salt. To be honest, I have tried brown sugar and honey in place of white sugar and I did not like it as much. Again, a personal preference.

I use Oak wood as it's heavier than fruit woods, and I like a heavier smoke taste on fish.

I know this isn't much help but I guess the point of my post is that with the exception of wiping the oil, I don't do trout any different than any other fish.

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I do a lot of smoked lakers on a weber grill. As far as brine goes, I like just salt in mine. The rule I use is: Enough salt in the water to float a raw egg. Seriously, it's a lot of salt in a small amount of water, but it's never let me down.

As far as wood chips, I am happy with applewood, cherrywood or mesquite. They are all good flavors on fish.

I apply a mixture of sugar/olive oil/pepper/herbs after the surface of the fish dries out after about 2 hours.

Good luck. Yum.

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Thanks for the responses.

I have never actually smoked a fish before so I'm wondering: how long do I soak it.

I guess, I just mix up some ingredients and take a shot (Just like most of my cooking).

All I knew was that Dad used brown sugar and molasses somewhere in the mix (brine/glaze?)--he never told (not that I really asked as I never thought that he would pass away) and now I can't really ask him.

I know he used hickory for the wood as we used to buy that in block together but we have tried other woods. To be honest, the wood didn't really seem to influence the flavor much it was more controlled by what you put in the water in the water pan inside the smoker.

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You should brine it 6-24 hours. Dry the fillets clean with paper towels and oil the grill grate before placing them on there (skin side down, or with fork puctured foil).

I would soak the chips ahead of time. Put them in small packs wrapped in foil to prevent them from flaming up. The type of wood only should match the flavors you add in the glaze. It's just takes a little imagination unless you like chewing on wood.

When the fish fillet has a completely dry appearance after 2-3 hours of cooking is when I add the flavor mixture. The water pan should be used after the flavor mixture is applied and somewhat glazed over on the fish. That keeps it from becoming too dry in the later hours of smoking.

It only takes a few charcoal briquets to achieve 200-250 temps. As they burn, just add a couple at a time.

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Thanks SS--I've smoked a lot of turkeys, ham, venison backstraps but I never thought of wrapping the wood in foil before. I usually soak the wood overnight and it doesn't flare up until after a couple of hours (I use the blocks not the smaller chips). This isn't so much of a problem when doing larger meats as the added temps at the end help finish off the cooking (especially on turkeys)

What is the total time roughly that you smoke the fish? I know it is dependent on a lot of variables; temp, size and thickness of the fillets, etc.

FYI--I'm a forester and I have been know to chew on wood a time or two. Actually I had a wood ID class in school where you identify wood blocks. In some cases--especially the different cherries and willows, the only way you can correctly identify them is the taste.

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Lakerunner:

I know a big tendency I have with fish is to overcook/oversmoke. Keep an eye on the stuff, and it seems at least with salmon, when it just starts to look almost done, it's plenty done. Sounds funny, but that's been my experience. Best case scenario would be to use an internal digital thermometer and monitor as the temp goes up.

As for tree eatin' - best I ever ate was a yellow birch. Followed by the black cherry. Most aspen leave an undesirable taste, but not nearly as bad as chokecherry or hemlock smile I too had a few plant-tax classes where taste was the best/easiest way to ID it down to sp. like you said!

Joel

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I haven't done lake trout or salmon, but for medium size Northerns I brine them for 2 hours before placing in the smoker. I would think with a 20 lb laker 3-4 hours in the brine should be a good starting point. For a Glaze I like to mix Honey and a little water (just to make the honey a little more runny, then use a small squeeze bottle (or a spoon) to glaze the fish the last hour they're in the smoker.

As for how long to smoke the fish just make sure it's fully cooked. For fish the internal temp should be 140 degrees and the meat should flake easily with a fork.

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To answer you on cooking time, I go at least 4 hours with low heat. The fillets on a 20lber may take longer to dry out so 5-7 hours is possible.

FYI it may be possible some of your ancestors are wood-eating beavers.

Let me know how it turns out!

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