⚠ Before you head to the water check the latest COVID-19 updates. We encourage you to follow CDC recommendations.
Making Smoked Fish
If you have a smoker or a charcoal grill, you can quickly learn how to make smoked fish at home. You don't need many ingredients and the process is a lot easier than you might think.
While you can smoke most almost any kind of fish, the best fish to smoke are fatty fish. Fatty fish like mackerel, trout, salmon, wahoo, tuna, bluefish or mullet are ideal because they will absorb the wood flavors better than lean fish. You can eat smoked fish right from the fillet,or use it as the main ingredient in a fish dip or spread.
Ingredients For Smoked Fish
These are the ingredients you will need to have on hand to smoke your own fish:
- 4-5 pounds of skin-on fish fillets
- 1 quart water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- Seasonings or dry rub of your choice
Once you have these five ingredients assembled, check to make sure you have the right type of wood chips for smoking your fillets. Woods like maple, alder, and pecan tend to be the best since they won't overpower the mild flavor of the fish.
How to Make Smoked Fish
Making smoked fish is a simple process. You just need to allow enough time to brine the fish overnight, and then cook the fish for about three hours in the smoker or charcoal grill.
Follow these steps to learn how to smoke fish:
- Make the smoked fish brine by combining water, salt and brown sugar in a pot over low heat, and then mixing until sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Allow the brine mixture to cool.
- Mix your seasonings or dry rub.
- Clean the fish and split into two fillets by cutting through the ribs on one side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and ribs, leaving two fillets, which you may want to cut into smaller 2-inch fillets.
- Place the brine in a large bowl, making sure it will fit in your refrigerator.
- Submerge the fish in the bowl of brine for 6-10 hours in the refrigerator (covering the bowl with plastic wrap).
- After a brine bath, rinse your fillets off with cool water and pat dry with paper towels.
- After fish has dried, sprinkle with your seasonings or dry rub of your choice.
- Preheat your smoker or grill and add the wood chips.
- Smoke the fish between 175°F and 200°F, cooking fish all the way through to an internal temperature of 160°F. If you're wondering about how long to smoke fish, plan on smoking the fish for about three hours.
Once you know how to smoke fish, it might become one of your favorite ways to cook your catches.