Those of you who may have followed this Ice fishing series on the blog may be asking yourself, “What possess a person to do that non-sense”. To be quite sane with you…I often ask myself the same question until………..I’m in front of the TV watching foot ball with some smoked Trout on a Ritz cracker.
I may be getting the cart a tad before the horse and should cover how to fillet a fish. But really it is fairly easy and I’ll have to do a blog on it some time in the future. It isn’t too difficult of a project and I’m sure you can find some website that shows you how.
I’m going to just focus on the product. You really don’t have to bone it; you can smoke them whole you will just have to adjust your cooking time just a bit longer.
You can purchase fish brine mixtures or make up your own. I prefer the later. In a large plastic bowl I fill it with enough water to cover the fillets. Then I add curing salt or mix to taste. I allow the fish to sit usually overnight in the fridge and then rinse them before smoking to remove even more of the salt. That is longer than most recipes require most call for minutes but it is how I’ve always done it. The salt preserves the flesh as it sits below recommended cooking temperatures during the drying and smoking process.
I spray the racks of my smoker down with non stick spray and then place the fillets skin down on the rack. I’ll place the rack in the smoker and using the warm setting brings the temperature to 100 degrees. I will crack the door just a bit, blocking it open with the latch and then wire the door in place to the handle to keep the cat out. Doing this allows moisture to escape and helps the whole process along. I’ll let the fish dry for a couple hours at this temperature, to create a pellicle on the outside of the fillet. (Whitish film covering forming on the fish)
I will then remove the racks, add apple wood and run the temperature up in High until I get smoke. Again using the warm setting I let the smoker cool, to approximately 170 degrees f, and then I place the racks in for the final smoking process. The amount of fillets and thickness dictate the time length of the smoke. I’ll check the fish from time to time using a fork to see if it is flakey. When it begins to separate it is done. On larger fillets I can get a reading with a thermometer and usually aim for 140 degrees f.
This batch smoked a couple of hours- Fillets averaged a pound.