1Standard Soy/Brown sugar brine for use with trout species.
2 Quarts water
2 cups soy
1.5 Cups Brown sugar
1/2 cup non-iodized Salt
1.5 tsp Granulated Garlic
1 tsp Ginger (optional)
Alder/Apple smoke for 6-12 hours depending on size of fish fillets or preference.
2 Lake Trout is a fattier fish and usually a little brown sugar or maple syrup glaze really enhances it.
2 quarts water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 Tbsp Pickling spice
1 Bay leaf
Alder smoke for 1-2 hours, sprinkle brown sugar or glaze with maple syrup and increase heat for another hour.
3For longer shelf life add more salt. Vacuum seal the end product in eatable sized portions and freeze for up to a year. Usually will last for a month out of the freezer but keep refrigerated.
Smoking Fish A primer
Smoking fish as long been a method of preserving fish for future consumption. There were no fridges and by utilizing the natural sterilization effects of salt and smoke a reliable method of long term fish storage was created. Cold smoke vs Hot Smoke
Cold smoking requires a very low temperature smoke for a prolonged period typically at temperatures below 100F. Hot smoking occurs at higher temperatures (140F-170F) for shorter periods of time.
The backyard smokers typically are all considered hot smokers for time and safety reasons. Smoking has three basic steps. The Brine, the “pellicle” and the smoke. The Brine Basic brine is comprised of salt and sugar dissolved in water. The Salt preserves, breaks down the proteins and improves the flavor. The Sugar extends the freshness of the end product as well as adds to the taste. The Salt must be non-iodized (pickling salt) and the sugar is typically brown sugar for increased flavor.
Typical ratio for a simple brine if 2 Quarts water, one half cup pickling salt and one half cup brown sugar. The salt/sugar can be increased together or separately depending on taste. Additional flavourings like spices, soy sauce, wine, peppers, etc. etc. can be added to taste (may take some experimentation) Brining the fish submerged in your brine mixture, refrigerated for eight hours or so (depends on the amount and type of fish).
After they’ve soaked long enough take them out, drain and dry them off and then place them on drying/ smoking racks to form a glaze or “pellicle”. The pellicle is an important piece of the smoking procedure as it will lock some of the juices in and allow for the smoke to adhere properly. Using fans is a great way to speed the process up. After about an hour the fish will form a tacky surface – this is the pellicle.
The Smoke The smoke is the last stage in the smoking process. Smoke time depends on size of fish being smoked and temperature of the fish. Typically smoking will start out cooler to work the smoke into the fish without cooking it, then near the end of the smoking time raising the temperature so that a “bacteria killing” temperature of 170F is reached – this is the finishing and can be done without smoke.
If your smoker doesn’t have adjustable temperature – just finish in a preheated oven.
The flavor of the smoke is derived from the smoke chips/pucks. Some provide a harsher smoke, others a sweet or fruity flavor. Type of fish and desired taste dictate the type of smoke used. Alder is a typical all round smoke flavor for fish.
Smaller, serving sized pieces will brine and smoke faster than full fish and will package quite nicely.
For packaging use vacuum seal bags and then freeze for prolonged consumption. Glaze with maple syrup or sprinkle brown sugar over smoking fish right before raising the temperature for finishing.
Try to use tried and true recipes for brine/smoking times – there are lots available online, just make sure you limit your searches by the type of fish you are smoking.
Cooler outdoor temperatures allow for better smoking so spring/fall are ideal, you can always freeze fish for smoking later.
Never re-use brine. Always make sure brine is kept cool.
The more salt you add, the longer it will be preserved but there is a limit to how much salt the brine water can hold. Heated up water will dissolve more salt/sugar than cold water.