Old Scaley

Smoking fish - who does it?

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I know they are hard to light, but apart from that, does anyone have any thoughts about smoking fish? I have a few trevally fillets frozen after a recent charter trip that didn't yield much else and was thinking about smoking them because I don't particularly like the taste of them. Just saw Julian's (demarc) report on an overnighter where he says he smokes the trevally so thought I would see what equipment, fish and methods people are using. Thanks, Steve.

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I just use a hot smoker, then smoke my fish for 4 hours. I bought it from a BBQ shop and it is quite tall. You put the hot beads at the bottom, then there is a dish for water to control the temp. I smoke at about 60F and use chunks of wood for my smoking material.

Before I smoke the fish I put it in a salt water and soy sauce brine for an hour then dry this for another hour.

When I do my batch tomorrow night I can post up my guide with pics if you like?

The flavour is soooooo nice!

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Ask me again after June Straddy trip!

Going to get a small one and try dart and tailor fillets

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Angus

P.S. I will look forward to sifting through this thread for tips later!

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I use me very ancient hot smoker with hickory chips and a methylated spirit heater. Brined fish, fresh or saltwater species, honey or brown sugar marinade, 9-10 minutes and its done to a T. Smokers are available from good tackle shops. The smoke chips are the real secret. Enjoy. Tight Lines. :cheer: Ian M

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/>http://eatmypix.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/the-joys-of-smoking/

and unrelated to fish .....
/>http://eatmypix.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/americana-low-n-slow-a-view-from-the-pit/

pm me if you need any more advice. cheers Sweresy

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Truthfully smoking fish isn't hard at all. Its an easy way to prepare oily fish and the results are outstanding. You really just need a half decent smoker and it will last for years.. On toast with mayo or in fish cakes the next day... Bloody tops.

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Quick update. Bought one of the really cheap ($15) smoker boxes from Bunnings along with some wood pis (seafood mix - mesquite and alder). Despite all my research and the responses on here, I still didn't really have a clue. Anyway I worked out that the box gets half filled with chips that have soaked for at least 30 mins and then placed between the burners and the grill on the old 4 burner BBQ. Let the bbq heist up until there is plenty of smoke.

I prepared the trevally fillets by soaking them in brine for an hour. Plenty of brine recipes on the www. Then dried them on paper towel in the fridge for an hour before salting them and covering in a thin layer of maple syrup. Put them on a rack with some baking paper under them and placed them on the plate side of the bbq, but without the burners on the plate being on. Cooked like that on a low heat (only the one burner under the smoker box was on) for about 30 mins. Smoke was running out (more chips next time) so I turned the other burners on for 10 minutes to get the fish up to cooked temperature (63 degrees centigrade according to my cooking thermometer). Back into the fridge and then eaten today with some anchovy mayo. Tasted great - a big like breakfast kippers. Now I know it what to do, I will be trying different things and will post some photos next time.

Perfect mate! I did mine on the weekend to. Bit different, but nearly the same... I soaked mine in brine the same amount of time, but I cooked it for 3 hours at 50C and 1 hour at 60C. I also used some burbon in my water tray. Turned out perfect! Below is the smoker I use.


/>http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/like/301090609886?limghlpsr=true&hlpv=2&ops=true&viphx=1&hlpht=true&lpid=107

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On 03/06/2014 at 6:16 AM, Angus said:

Ask me again after June Straddy trip!

 

Going to get a small one and try dart and tailor fillets

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Angus

 

P.S. I will look forward to sifting through this thread for tips later!

How did your straddy trip go? 

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14 hours ago, PORTA-BLOKE said:

Smoking is all about the brine. Get that right, with a good plume of smoke, and its hard to fail. 

*Oily fish are best. Fat carries flavour and thats true in all cooking. That's why oily fish are most famous for smoking. (salmon, mackerel, eel, trout)

*Fresh water fish (eel, trout) need more salt (or brined longer) than Saltwater fish. 

*Flossy salt is best. Sea salt next. (arguably) A liquid brine will give more consistent flavour than dry rub.

* A standard brine may be; Try a cup (tea cup) of salt per 2ltr water. Add brown sugar (1/2 cup) if you like. Make sure its all dissolved. Other ingredients can be added to your taste. 8 hours for a standard trout, eel. 6h for saltwater fish.

*Take fish from the brine, pat off excess moisture and let the fish dry to the touch. (2 hours?) This will allow a 'pellicle' to form (sticky scum thingy) which will hold a lot of smoke flavour and give the fish a great colour.

*Australian hardwoods are excellent sources of woodsmoke. Yes, gum trees. You could also raid orchards and break off dead woods from fruit and nut trees. Personally I get sawdust from a hardwood sawmill, or chip up dead branches of gumtrees and soak them in water before smoking. Not rocket science, just get it smoking and not on fire.

*Forget cold smoking. We want enough heat to cook the fish. Remember you want to smoke for about 4 hours, so you want a low cooking heat. I'll leave that up to you to judge. 

Lastly, If you aren't happy with the salt flavour, don't play with the brine. Play with the brine time!  If too strong, brine for less time, if too weak, brine longer. Keep your brine recipe and learn how long you need to brine. If you keep changing the brine recipe you'll take a lot longer to get it right.

Don't release that next freshwater eel..  Its an expensive delicacy all over the world, and for good reason. We in Oz are blessed with an abundance of them. Give it a go.

Oh yes... SMOKING IS ALL ABOUT THE BRINE!

 

 

 

 

 

Great informative post! Thanks so much Porta Bloke. 

Welcome to AFO.

Do you have any recommendations on what smokers to buy or how to build your own? The old ones I have had are the little metho boxes that only take about 20 mins to smoke. 

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12 hours ago, Drop Bear said:

Great informative post! Thanks so much Porta Bloke. 

Welcome to AFO.

Do you have any recommendations on what smokers to buy or how to build your own? The old ones I have had are the little metho boxes that only take about 20 mins to smoke. 

Cheers Drop Bear. 

Which smoker or smokehouse can get complicated. If one wants to get really serious there is moisture content, (humidity)accurate temp gauges (spikes in product) , smoke spreaders for more even smoke, timers..

As ive said, brine is the most important part. Next is a good coverage of smoke, and cook the product well. Honestly ive never used a small smoker like the metho one you mentioned. I know a lot of people swear by them, but ive never tasted what they are swearing about... 

Personally, I like a bar fridge size home made smoker. Hot coals in a tray on the bottom (can use heat beads or coals from separate fire). A tray with wet sawdust or wet woodchips in or beside the coals. A 'spreader' above. A spreader is like a pasta strainer that makes the smoke even out as it rises above.

Above that are racks to hold fish, meat whatever. Also the racks can be taken out and product can be hung. I prefer Trout hung not racked. There is a trick to is to stop the fish falling off the spear. Eels also.

You don't need a chimney at the top. A spud bag can simply be put over the top.

Lastly, To stop your sawdust or chips catching fire, you must limit the intake of air. This is done from the bottom. If the fire gets too much air is when you get flame trouble. You need to walk the line between smothering the fire to make smoke, and keeping it hot enough to cook. Like anything, it takes a bit of practice.  Smoking would be more popular if people got a good result. Most don't. But you can get restaurant quality product with only a little practice. I suggest practicing on some freshwater Eels. You will know when you get it right.

 

May do a youtube vid some time this year on it.

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On 02/06/2014 at 11:50 AM, demarc said:

I just use a hot smoker, then smoke my fish for 4 hours. I bought it from a BBQ shop and it is quite tall. You put the hot beads at the bottom, then there is a dish for water to control the temp. I smoke at about 60F and use chunks of wood for my smoking material.

 

Before I smoke the fish I put it in a salt water and soy sauce brine for an hour then dry this for another hour.

 

When I do my batch tomorrow night I can post up my guide with pics if you like?

 

The flavour is soooooo nice!

@demarc you using a bullet smoker too? That’s what I use....bloody bullet proof and way cheaper than other options out there. Use the brine myself for chickens overnight...hadn’t though of the soy though!

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I have only just started smoking fish - I use this cheapie:

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The smoker came with scribbly gum and iron bark sawdust. I use it on the BBQ rather than the metho burners that came with it so you have better control of the heat. I mostly smoke fish wings and the odd fillet (skin and scales on) but have smoked chicken legs in there too which turned out great. I brine overnight in brown sugar, salt, water and soy, wash the brine off in fresh water, leave uncovered in the fridge to dry for a few hours again and then smoke for about 20-30 mins with the BBQ on low (around 150oC). Make sure you get the temp stable before you put the fish in or else it can overcook it. And use enough sawdust that will last the smoking time. The results are definitely worth the effort!

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On 02/10/2018 at 11:38 AM, Andrew_P said:

I have only just started smoking fish - I use this cheapie:

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The smoker came with scribbly gum and iron bark sawdust. I use it on the BBQ rather than the metho burners that came with it so you have better control of the heat. I mostly smoke fish wings and the odd fillet (skin and scales on) but have smoked chicken legs in there too which turned out great. I brine overnight in brown sugar, salt, water and soy, wash the brine off in fresh water, leave uncovered in the fridge to dry for a few hours again and then smoke for about 20-30 mins with the BBQ on low (around 150oC). Make sure you get the temp stable before you put the fish in or else it can overcook it. And use enough sawdust that will last the smoking time. The results are definitely worth the effort!

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Yum that looks awesome. 

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On ‎3‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 6:00 AM, Drop Bear said:

Loving this thread thanks. I have a webber bbq that I think I can smoke on. Will do some research. 

Taylor and mullet must be awesome smoked like this. 

Cheers Drop Bear.

Im serious when I say brine is most important. Without it there would be no such thing as the flavours of bacon, ham, smoked salmon, trout, mackerel, eel, chicken, and a variety of other traditional meats that owe their unique flavours to salt, more than they do smoke! But the combination of them has created some of humanities most popular foods!

To successfully replicate traditional smoked meats and fish, brining is mandatory. We aren't talking BBQ. We are talking cured, smoked meats and fish. 

BBQ is great. But nothing beats brined, and smoked meats and fish. Eg; Bacon, Ham, chicken, Smoked Salmon, trout, mackerel, eel. 

 

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6 minutes ago, PORTA-BLOKE said:

Cheers Drop Bear.

Im serious when I say brine is most important. Without it there would be no such thing as the flavours of bacon, ham, smoked salmon, trout, mackerel, eel, chicken, and a variety of other traditional meats that owe their unique flavours to salt, more than they do smoke! But the combination of them has created some of humanities most popular foods!

To successfully replicate traditional smoked meats and fish, brining is mandatory. We aren't talking BBQ. We are talking cured, smoked meats and fish. 

BBQ is great. But nothing beats brined, and smoked meats and fish. Eg; Bacon, Ham, chicken, Smoked Salmon, trout, mackerel, eel. 

 

Ok thanks mate. 

 

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All this talk of smoking fish got to me. I haven't really done much for years. Was thinking of building one but had a look on Gumtree.... and found a second hand ALDI gas smoker. $70 bucks. Had a mate pick it up on the Goldy for me as we live near Toowoomba. Below is a pic of the model.

 

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10 minutes ago, PORTA-BLOKE said:

All this talk of smoking fish got to me. I haven't really done much for years. Was thinking of building one but had a look on Gumtree.... and found a second hand ALDI gas smoker. $70 bucks. Had a mate pick it up on the Goldy for me as we live near Toowoomba. Below is a pic of the model.

 

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Wow that looks mint!

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1 minute ago, Drop Bear said:

Wow that looks mint!

No, that's just a pic I found on the net. Wont get down to the goldy till next weekend to pick it up. Anyway here is another one for sale in Brissy.   Id haggle a bit. The Aldi coolabah was $200 new. He is asking $150. Been on gumtree a month with no offers it looks like.

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7 hours ago, rayke1938 said:

For chooks I use a ham and bacon cure and pump them with a pump up garden sprayer with a brine needle at the end of the hose.

Cheers

Ray

My Old man was an ex butcher. He used the same home made rig as you describe years later to corn meat on the farm. He once did a Wallaby leg, and you couldn't tell the difference between the Wallaby and corned Beef.

Really good way to do chooks as you mentioned. Pump them then put them back in the brine for the prescribed time.

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As I said earlier, I bought a 'new' 2nd hand smoker on Gumtree last week. Sight unseen except for a pic on the gumtree ad, and had a mate pick it up for me. He said when he collected the smoker the gas element and the housing fell out of the bottom of the smoker..... he said he didnt take too much notice, and took it home without looking at it further.

So I arrived on Saturday, with a 2kg lump of topside, some rub and a hope the smoker would be 'fixable'. My 1st observation was the smoker was In pretty good nic. The shelves looked brand new. It was obvious they had seen little to no smoke. An indication of how much smoking the unit had done would be evidenced via the woodchip bowl. It also looked brand new, the enamel was perfect... except for one spot that looked like it copped a lot of heat. It was evidence of a major flare up when the woodchips have ignited instead of smoke and the flare up has gone out by itself and not been extinguished by the cook!

We found also the gas element housing was incorrectly installed. The screws were meant to be screwed down from inside the smoker housing floor, not from underneath the hosing up through the floor! The smoke vent at the top had been also improperly installed. It was obvious previous owner had no idea, used it once, had a flare up and possibly ruined his food. Later on he tried to use it again and the gas line was blocked, blamed the smoker and sold it on gumtree to an unsuspecting buyer.... I wondered why they deleted our conversation on GT so quickly.

Anyway, we gave the unit a clean, checked the gas O rings and seal. One of the O rings was leaking gas and would have caused some drama. Lucky ol mate is a plumber and had the correct size gas O rings in his truck..  So a quick replacement saw everything hooked up ready to go. Turned on the gas... nothing. By process of elimination we found the regulator up near the gas bottle was fkd. Needs a replacement. Anyway we hooked up the gas line from his BBQ instead... all good. 

The smoker came with 3 boxes of woodchips. Hickory I think they are. I soaked them for 20 minutes, then lightly wrapped the chips in foil (so not too much air gets at them potentially causing a flare up) put the lump of meat in and fired her up...

Earlier in the week, id sent ol mate the sellers phone number so they could arrange a pick up time between them. Over a couple of beers ol mate got this wicked idea of sending some pics with a thank you text to the sellers of the unit. The images we sent are below. Considering they sold the smoker knowing it wasn't working, a cactus gas lead, etc, I bet they were surprised with the outcome! ha! The pic of the meat in the smoker is only just in. Forgot to take an image of finished product.

 

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26 minutes ago, Drop Bear said:

Fantastic. Great outcome. What a grub selling something he thought was trash for a good price. 

I am looking forward to seeing a few finished products. 

What was it like to eat??? 

What was in the rub?

It was a rush job. I would have liked to inject some beef stock into the meat before smoking. But I haven't a needle at the moment. The rub was 'Texas BBQ' $1.70 from Coles.

I cooked the meat for about 5 hours. The smoke lasted about 1 and a half hours but I had the temp too low for the 1st 2 hours. Was looking at the farenheight  numbers not the Celcius numbers as the temp guage had condensation in it at the beginning. Didn't have my glasses.. just beer glasses....Anyway, by the end of the 2nd hour I noticed it was on the wrong heat and turned up the gas.

All turned out well actually. Was like a rare roast beef but with smoked flavour. Was tender (for topside) despite the short cooking time. We all loved it and the kids got into it. That's a win. We had 'recovery sandwiches' of the leftover roast mid morning!

Have 2 things id like to cook next. Some eel,...…., and pump and rub a chicken with the KFC recipe spices that have been leaked on the net! Will show the process when I do it.

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22 hours ago, PORTA-BLOKE said:

It was a rush job. I would have liked to inject some beef stock into the meat before smoking. But I haven't a needle at the moment. The rub was 'Texas BBQ' $1.70 from Coles.

I cooked the meat for about 5 hours. The smoke lasted about 1 and a half hours but I had the temp too low for the 1st 2 hours. Was looking at the farenheight  numbers not the Celcius numbers as the temp guage had condensation in it at the beginning. Didn't have my glasses.. just beer glasses....Anyway, by the end of the 2nd hour I noticed it was on the wrong heat and turned up the gas.

All turned out well actually. Was like a rare roast beef but with smoked flavour. Was tender (for topside) despite the short cooking time. We all loved it and the kids got into it. That's a win. We had 'recovery sandwiches' of the leftover roast mid morning!

Have 2 things id like to cook next. Some eel,...…., and pump and rub a chicken with the KFC recipe spices that have been leaked on the net! Will show the process when I do it.

Awesome. eel is easy enough to catch. I would be interested to see the KFC recipe too. 

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I use a hark 2-door gas smoker which is exactly the same as the aldi one and smoke pretty much any meat.  Not overly expensive in the grand scheme and very simple to use and use well.

 

Smoking fresh fish - in all honesty you don't really need to brine it if it is fresh, especially if you are able to wash the fillets in salt water.  it does develop a stronger, saltier flavour if you do brine it but I personally prefer to let the fish itself shine on through with a lick of smoke flavour.  Different story altogether if fish has been frozen or has been rinsed in fresh water.  Standard basic brine I use is 1:1:16 salt, brown sugar, water.  I add soy for chicken, sometimes a dash of fresh citrus juice for different seafoods, maple syrup when i am making maple bacon, dash of red wine for beef, apple juice for a pork... it's a bit of a choose your own adventure thing.

 

Specifically for fish, I always leave the skin on my fish (scales off of course) and smoke it skin side down at about 120 degrees C for approximately 45min - 1 hour, depending on the size of the fillet.  As far as wood goes, i use a lot of aussie natives in all my smoking, some of my favs are ironbark, wattle, banksia, any kind of gum but the best i have found for fish is definitely wattle.  Apple wood also works well for a sweeter, softer smoke flavour.  Definitely soak the chips prior to putting them in to really get the smoke going.  Best fish I have found to smoke are tailor, mackeral, trevally, kingfish and dart.

 

Also have worked out how to smoke oysters, mussels, prawns, squid and the best of all - scallops.

 

Here's a report I did a while back.

http://www.australianfishing.com.au/forum/topic/47933-aus-day-smoking/

 


Cheers

Benno

 

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If you want professional smoker for bugger all.. bout 120 -130$ NZ invention.

Google SMOKAI. youtube vids etc.. top piece of kit. And it cranks out the smoke. Cold smoker.

I put one on a wine barrel for a mate for bday, and put a hot burner plate in bottom to heat up the barrel chamber. To sweat the meat at end.

 

Incredible piece of kit that can bolt onto anything, Old wardrobe, Keg, 44 gallon drum etc. There is also a specific adaptor to fit it to your weber Q BBQ. 35$ i think.

So you can cold smoke and if wanted turn on low flame at end to get some heat into your product using the weber family Q. Just open the lid every now n then so dosnt heat up to much. keep at about 100 deg.Thats if you want to cook the fish through.

Main thing with smoning is prep..

Bring home a bucket of seawater, then add handfull rock salt. and few TBSP brown sugar, Soak fillets (or wings and mac frames 4 hrs)

Then the main part is to hang fish in a beer fridge 3-4 days until real tacky. So when you touch it fillet sticks to your finger until 10-20 degrees from vertical. This will result in minimal milky whaite stuff coming to surface of meat whern smoking.

I smoke mac, and used to smoke jew frames, king frames when lived south.  as they are quite meaty. then scrape off all the meat into a bowl, add sour cream,chives wholegrain mustard egg etc.. then mix bit of lemon in. Awesome on a biki with a beer.

All the sawdust and other things is a trial and error. Sawdust is expensive so if you can buy a piece of wood you like a planer and a pillowcase goes a long way.

Some things that add a nice flavour are burning on the hotplate or wrap in foil and put over the gas flame beneth your hotplate whilst smoking are teabags, lemon rind, lemongrass herbs.. etc

 

 

 

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Jeez, @davostephens, you really have been browsing the old stuff on this site, haven’t you? That’s great though, I really enjoy seeing some of the old posts and some of the old contributors as well. I never did get into smoking fish, but might have to think about it again now.

Thanks for some of your other posts too mate. They have been interesting and useful. Look forward to seeing some of your trip reports from up there in fishing heaven.

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