Smoked fish is a delicious treat that is also good for you. When fish is properly smoked the meat comes away in juicy, flavorful chunks with a taste that is hard to beat. Here are a few of my tips for preparing and smoking fish.
Start with the right type of fish.
While you can smoke any type of fish, some do work better than others. Tuna, salmon, sailfish and sea bass are some of the best fish to smoke since they are fattier than other varieties. This helps them absorb the flavor of the wood chips better than leaner types of fish.
Preparing your fish.
There are several ways you can prepare your fish for smoking, but I prefer to use fillets with the skin on. Leaving the skin on helps the fish stay together better in the high heat. It also helps the fish absorb more of that great smokey flavor that everyone loves. The heat also makes the skin curl away from the meat so it easily flakes away in chunks when you are ready to eat.
Choose your wood chips carefully.
It is important that you pay particular attention to the type of wood chips that you will be using. Fish has a light and delicate flavor that can be easily overpowered. Over the years I’ve found that cherry, apple or even alder flavored wood chips work best when you are smoking fish.
I should also mention that this is a matter of personal taste, and what works for me may not be something that you enjoy eating.
Temperature is critical.
Regardless of whether you caught the fish on your last trip or purchased it from the grocery store it is important that it is cooked to the right temperature. If it is undercooked you run the risk of giving yourself and guests food poisoning, and if it is smoked for too long the fish will have a burnt taste and dry texture. Perfectly smoked fish will have an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best way to check the temperature is with a meat probe, but this might not be possible with thinner fish fillets. If this is the case then you can smoke the fish for three hours, adding an additional 30 minutes for every pound it weighs.