|smoked sockeye salmon|
The best types of fish for smoking include fish from several well known families. Salmon, trout and char are the most well known fish for smoking. These fish contain high amounts of omega-3 fish oil, which is widely acclaimed for its nutritional value.
Several members of the cod family are also popular for smoking, especially Atlantic cod and Atlantic haddock. Other choices include bluefish, tuna, mackerel, and herring.
Basic smoked fish recipes usually start with cleaning the fish. Whole, scaled skin-on fillets are the easiest to work with. Other options include cutting the headed and gutted fish into cross-sectional steaks. Either option should produce portions that are no more than one inch in thickness.
After cleaning, fish should be rinsed well and immersed in a refrigerated brine solution for 30-60 minutes. A simple fish brine can be made from 1 quart of water, approximately 1/3 cup of brown sugar and 1/3 cup of kosher salt or pickling salt.
After brining, the fish should be spread out to drain on a rack and returned to the refrigerator. After most of the brine has dripped off the fish, it should begin to form a glaze. Some cooks prefer to lay the fillets in a shallow, covered baking dish and allow them to continue drying overnight in the refrigerator.
When the fish is dried and glazed, it can be smoked. A wide range of smokers are available for smoking fish. Elaborate models offer precise control of temperature and smoke, while basic units require a bit more supervision.
Fish are often smoked at cool temperatures, ranging from 150 - 250 degrees. Smoking time depends on the smoker design, temperature, thickness of meat, type of wood, desired amount of smoke flavor, and other factors.
For skin-on fillets under one inch thick, 30-45 minutes is usually enough to cook and flavor the fish. If the fish is to be served right away as an entree with a sauce, short smoking times may be suitable. Longer smoking times will produce a dryer, firmer product, which is useful for presentations such as smoked fish dips or fish chowder recipes.