Saturday, July 02, 2005

Smoking a Fish

Almost any type of fish can be smoked, but such moderately fat to fatter types as salmon, steelhead, trout, sturgeon, sablefish, tuna, mackerel, bluefish and lake whitefish retain the moistest texture.

SMOKING. Lift fish from wet or dry salt mixture; rinse thoroughly under a slow stream of cold water, rubbing flesh, if necessary, to release salt. Place fish, skin side down, on several layers of paper towels. Blot to dry. Let dry, uncovered, at room temperature until flesh feels tacky (about 30 minutes).

Ignite 20 charcoal briquets in a covered barbecue. Meanwhile, soak 4 cups hickory chips in water to cover for at least 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup maple syrum, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Set baste aside.

When fish has smoked about 20 minutes, check thermometer; it should read 160 to 180. If temperature is below 160, add a hot coal or 2 to each side of barbecue; remove 1 or 2 coals if too hot. Sprinkle each pile of coals with 1/2 cup more wet hickory chips. Pat surface of fish a paper towel to keep dry; brush lightly with baste.

About every 20 to 30 minutes, check barbecue. Add coals as needed to maintain temperature between 160 and 180; add wood chips as needed to produce a steady stream of smoke. Each time you check barbecue, blot fish with a paper towel and brush with baste.

Continue smoke-cooking until fish flakes easily when prodded with a fork in thickest part (about 1 hour for small fish, 2 to 3 hours for 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick fish steaks or fillets). To remove from grill, loosen edges with a wide spatula and slide gently onto a baking sheet; serve hot or let cool to room temperature. If made ahead, wrap airtight and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks; freeze for up to 6 months.

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