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Author Topic: Smoking Trout?  (Read 38656 times)
bracken
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« on: June 24, 2008, 01:03:17 PM »

Yes I know! Give it up!  It’s illegal in public places now etc. etc. However:

This is a serious request for some help and guidance with the culinary preparation of quite a large quantity of the contents of my freezer and perhaps a move to me having a healthier diet! I don’t actually really like eating trout, but may be more tempted if the flavour is livened up or disguised. So here goes for some help.

To begin with: Does anybody out there have a set of instructions for the older Shakespeare branded fish smoker – the one with a single meths burner and sliding stainless steel lid? I believe this smoker may have been marketed under a number of differing names and may possibly be very similar to the one currently being sold by Eurofishing on Ebay as a ‘compact smoker’. It looks and operates in a similar manner to the original product marketed by ABU, but is a little bigger. I bought a reduced price, damaged one at a show many years ago, and have finally got round to beating the dents out of it - and would now like to give it a try! I guess this trout cooking strand may well be of interest to a lot of other trout fishermen as well, judging from conversations I have had with a few on the topic over the years.

Having done some research on the web, using one of these small ‘hot smokers’ appears to be a black art, with many opinions about ‘brining’ and its various alternatives - going as far as stating no brine, but rub brown sugar and salt into the filleted fish. The only time I have knowingly eaten hot smoked trout was in Denmark 20 years ago, and I cannot remember anything being done to the fish prior to it being placed in the smoker – but equally the smoker was a home-made device with a chimney directly above the burner into which the fish was hung rather than laid flat on a grille – (and it wasn’t a cold smoker). Any knowledgeable, sensible suggestions regarding brining / glazing would be appreciated here please.

Another big anomaly appears to be how much of the sawdust / woodchips are required - ranging from a tablespoon full, to covering the whole of the bottom with a 10mm thick layer.  (Snowbee smoker I think quoting the latter – is there a small central depression to contain chips above the burner in this version)?
Equally, the woodchip materials themselves appear to invite quite a bit of controversy - ranging from don’t use softwood, to using hamster bedding woodchips, (preferably before the hamster has used them), but in my experience these are usually all softwood! My gut reaction from reading the websites, is that Oak or fruitwoods would give the best results, but I have no experience to base this on.
Would the woodchips sold and fairly readily available in supermarkets for putting onto barbeques do the same job, and do they need to be dampened before putting into a hot smoker?
Cooking times quoted are the stuff of nightmares – 20 minutes to 8 hours!!?? My educated guess is that about 30 to 40 minutes is correct for fillets lopped of the sides of 2lb trout, but I would like to be reassured by some informed and experienced guidance here.

As with anything to do with fishing, there will be many experts out there and I really would like some help please before ruining a few trout unnecessarily. I also guess that some of our Scottish colleagues may well be into using a fish smoker, - I know from bitter experience that some loch caught wild brownies can be a bit grey and not very tasty to eat if just grilled with some butter.

Please help us out here if you know the secrets!
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bracken
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2008, 05:40:13 PM »

I'm talking to myself again - come on somebody must know something about this topic they are prepared to share and post on the forum.

I must proffer my thanks to one - Ian Gedney of Lincolnshire, (a gentleman), who took the trouble to phone me up and give me some very good and constructive advice on using a small hot smoker for cooking trout. It turns out that he is quite an expert in the field and uses a smoker on a very regular basis, (he also knows a bit about cold smoking all sorts of fishy things as well). I will shortly try out a couple of the tips he gave me and see what the results are like.

If you are very unlucky and I survive, I'll post the information on here, and thus once more be seen to be talking to myself yet again. (Is the education system so bad that nobody else can write)?
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Alyn Fisher
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2008, 07:57:30 AM »

Hi Bracken.
I smoke my own trout as I hate the taste of them straight from the lake. Hot smoking is great for a quick meal, we used to do it. However theses days we have progressed to a dustbin smoker! Here’s my way of smoking which has converted many trout haters over the years. First get yourself a galvanised dustbin; a food colander and a wire cake rack. Next get a screwdriver and make some holes in the bottom of the bin to let some air in and place on some bricks to raise it off the floor. Then get you smoking powder either bought or acquired from a saw mill or chippings when they chip the roadside trees! Make sure you dry them very well fist for a couple of weeks! Also they should be from a hard wood. Fill the food colander with your smoking product and start it smouldering; I use an eclectic paint stripper through the holes in the side. Once it is going place it in the bottom of the bin. Hang the cake rack at the top of the bin using garden wire like a hammock. Clean your fish but leave the head and skin on! No need to brine or salt. Open out the gut cavity and stand on the rack, now place the bin lid on. With a full colander of smoking material it should smoulder for about 8 to 12hrs, you can add more if required. The fish is ready when it looks like an Arbroath Smokey! The skin will be like leather and hard and very dark in colour! Peal off the skin and you will have the best smoked fish you have ever eaten!! This method can be used to smoke many things including meat, but remember you MUST cook the meat first after the smoking; the fish is fine straight out of the bin.
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fishicist
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2008, 08:29:55 PM »

Smoking mixture (all obtainable frpm Chinese s/market, buy in bulk much cheaper)

All 0.5 cups or 125ml or 4 fluid ounces
Plain flour
sugar
rice
jasmine tea
whole star anise

1.Salt fish ( fillets with skin on one side) & set aside for at least 30mins ( o/night better)
2.Line wok with heavy kitchen foil, leaving extra hanging over the edge.
3. Mix & place smoking mixture in centre of wok
4.Set rack 3inches above mixture
5.Drain fish,dry & place on rack (skin up)
6.Cover wok with additional foil lid pleating it so smoke can circulate around fish.Crimp securely if lid availible put on top of foil.
7.With gas/heat on high heat until you can smell smoke then cook for 8-10 minutes (10-15 electric).
8.Remove wok from heat and let cool.Preferably out of doors.
Smoked fish will last for 5 days in fridge.
Thick fillets may require additional 2 minutes pan frying

Enjoy Tongue
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bracken
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 06:09:13 PM »

Thanks for the above replies and also the information which Ian gave me. (I'm waiting to try your 'biscuits' Ian as I think they will be an improvement on the below). I'm surprised there are not more of you listing your favourite recipes and techniques here. However:

Last night I decided to give the smoker a trial run on the trout I brought back from Sweethope. These were filleted and soaked in a brine and brown sugar solution for 6 hours, and then dried for a couple of hours to get the glazed 'pellicule'  over the surface. A good tablespoonful of Tesco's best barbecue woodchips were added to the pan above the burner and the whole lot left to cook for around 30 minutes. The result was better than standard grilled trout and quite palatable, it was however a bit salty! Next time I will rinse the fillets between the brining and drying which apparently makes the final product less salty.

I guess that experience and experimentation will eventually lead me to the best system, but initial results suggest that this hot smoking process is well worth persisting with as a method of cooking trout! 
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bracken
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2008, 03:44:04 PM »

As Russ has now moved this topic into a new area I thought you might like a further update on my novice attempts at incinerating trout in a hot smoker. Actually these simple devices work quite well and the fish they produce is definitely improved in flavour and use in my humble opinion.

I used a Bradley cherry biscuit, (kindly supplied by Ian), in a fresh attempt with a range of different sized fish. These fish were brined for 12 hours with a mixture of salt and brown sugar and then rinsed before leaving out on cake racks in the air to develop a pellicule on the surface. The thicker fillets from a 3lb plus fish were 'smoked' for about 35 minutes and the brown sugar seemed to have been taken up well by the flesh, leaving a sweet taste to the fish with a salty tinge as well. The smaller fish which were consequently thinner fillets, were actually much saltier, despite sharing the same batch of brine - they were only smoked for about 20 minutes or so. In both cases the flesh peeled easily off the skin and was well cooked.

One batch was made into a fish pie - cheese sauce, sliced boiled eggs and sliced potatoes plus a generous helping of smoked trout. This made a very tasty meal and I can thoroughly recommend it

Although the smoking process is a bit of a hassle in the preparation stage, I'm definitely going to persist with it. Next time I will use a lot less salt for the brine, as I'm now of the opinion that the amounts published in the mainly USA based recipes, are about three times too much, and I will keep reducing it until I still get a pellicule, but also achieve a 'healthier heart' version with less residual salt in the flesh.

As a further observation - Ian gave a me a piece of cold smoked cod he had done in a Bradley cold smoker and the results were outstanding, the yellow flesh was very reminiscent of the best smoked kippers and the texture and taste were brilliant! These Bradley smokers are not cheap items, but they certainly appear to do the job if you have enough fish to warrant purchasing one. However, the small hot smoker I own certainly works well also and they are cheap enough for anybody to buy and have a go for themselves.

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chappie28
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2009, 11:53:42 PM »

Thought i'd let you know how i smoke my trout i built my own smoker out of wood with wire rack shelfs which i got from wilkinsons i drilled three holes at the top left hand side and another on the bottom right hand side for my smoke generator which i got off ebay from america this is basicly a metal tube with wire mesh at one end to stop the wood chippings falling, out it has a cap and a bottom which are a tight fit to stop the smoke escaping, in the bottom it has a vent which i attatch a air pump like one you get for fish tanks but it runs off batterys the tube has a vent about 3/4s the way up which goes into the bottom of my smoke box
i start by boiling a couple of kettles of water and mixing it with about a pound of salt till it dissolves then i fillet my fish while waiting for the water to cool once cool i place my fillet pieces into it an leave them for about an hour then i roughly dry them an place them into my smoke box skin side down an leave them to dry for another hour or so
then i place my wood shavings (i use oak from a branch that had been wind blown at one of my local fishing spots) into my smoke generater an light these from the bottom with a blow torch once it starting smokeing i place on both caps an start the air pump
once smoke starts coming out of the holes i drilled you know its working i have put more shavings in every half hour or so an i keep it smoking for about five hours but you could smoke for more or less to get a stronger or weaker flavor
the result is smoked trout which tastes as good as the smoked salmon you get from the supermarkets i freeze most of it but leave enough out to last me a couple of days
i cook it either in a frying pan or in the oven in some foil but some pepole i have given it to have eaten it raw an say its good
hope this helps
chappie
 
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