It only took us 10 years to get Mr TBTAM’s cousin Lou and his wife Maria up to our little town in the mountains, but it was a visit well worth the wait. Not only did we have a great time, but Lou and Branch caught two trout in one of the feeders streams to the Loyalsock. A real team effort, and on a warm summer day, when trout are supposed to be nowhere to be found in shallow waters.
Of course, I smoked the trout. I’ve been wanting to make smoked trout since I first tasted it in Austria three years ago. My own attempts at fishing last year had yielded nothing more than a few tasty little perch. Now I had not one, but two 12 inch trout to play with! Not to mention, Lou had scaled and cleaned the fish himself. (Thank you Lou!)
How I Smoked the Trout
I cut off the heads and tails and butterflied the trout, then brined them (recipe below) in the fridge for about an hour. While they were brining, I soaked some mesquite chips and figured out how to light the Weber grill – Do you believe I’d actually never lit a grill fire myself? But the boys were all off doing some evening fishing before dinner, so I was on my own.
I waited for the coals to turn grey and the fire to really get hot. Then, I took the filets out of the brine, rinsed them under cold water, patted them dry with a paper towel and brought them out to the grill. Off the fire, I brushed the grill rack with olive oil. I then added a couple of handfuls of drained wet wood chips to the fire, put the grill rack on the grill and placed the filets skin side down on it. Then I put on the lid and watched the fragrant smoke pour out the vent holes while the fish cooked. (Thanks, Janet, for watching the grill!)
When the flesh was flaky but still moist (about an hour), they were done. I pulled out the bones, placed the flaked fish meat into a small bowl, and served it at room temp as an appetizer, along with a bowl of lemon aoli and some small crackers.
OMG – amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever had smoked fish so delicious.
Now that I know the fishing spot to get trout, I am going to head there myself next weekend and see if I can scare up a few more. Next time, though, I’ll be using applewood chips instead of mesquite. And I”ll try drying the brined filets before smoking them – a process that supposedly creates a very pretty surface (called a pellicle) on the smoked fish.
Finally, I’m thinking I should get one of those egg smokers – anyone have one and think it’ll give me even better results than using the Weber?
Brine for Smoked Trout
4 cups water at room temp
1 C. Kosher salt
½ C. brown sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
Whisk ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl until thoroughly dissolved. Place fish in brine – make sure all pieces are completely covered, if necessary, placing a dinner plates on top of fish to keep them underwater.
Refrigerate for about am hour. Remove fish from brine, quickly rinse in cold water, and pat dry. It’s ready to be smoked.
What I did not do, but will next time –
Place fish skin side down on lightly oiled grill rack (bot not yet on the grill). Season with herbs if you’d like – parsley or dill or cracked pepper. Dry for about an hour till skin is dried to point of being barely sticky – this is called the pellicle. A fan can speed up this process. Now it’s ready to be smoked.
Lemon Aoli to serve with Smoked Trout
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Sea salt and large cracked pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve alongside smoked trout.
I read a bit on how to smoke fish before I tried it myself. Here are some posts I found particularly helpful.
- How I Smoke Trout – The Girls Guide to Guns and Butter. Great pics!
- How to Smoke Trout – Wikihow with nice pics.
- Hardwood Smoked Trout – From Montana outdoors. Great brine recipe, brine and smoke time adjustments for weight of fish.
- A neat technique for deboning smoked trout – Maybe I’ll try this next time.