It seems that a lot of the finer foods we enjoy in life have origins in preservation. Such as fish that would have surely spoiled by the end of the day, soon got a lease on shelf-life when a coat of salt cured it. This recipe is a fine starting point, granted you have some trout or salmon on hand.
This should be done with the freshest fish you can get, making sure to keep it cold. Any portions not planned for being eaten in the week should be vac-sealed and frozen. The cook temp on the smoker is only set at 100 degrees F so it is only slightly smoked. Raw or undercooked meats should be eaten with caution and always carry a risk, however minuscule. That being said, this is the way I make it, and it is damn good.
This recipe will work for any type of trout or salmon, though curing or smoking times may vary for fish larger than the average trout.
- 1/2 cup of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2-3 sprigs of finely minced fresh dill
- Fresh ground black pepper
- About 4 lbs of trout fillets
Add salt, sugar and coriander in a small bowl to mix. Add dill and mix the cure together.
Pat dry the fillets of fish with a paper towel. Then generously coat both sides of fish, being sure that the cure coats the full surface of the fillets.
Place fillets into a large plastic container with a lid. If a large container is not available, a heavy-duty zip-type bag may be used. Place the fillets in the fridge and let cure for 8 hours.
After the fillets have cured, there will be evidence of all the moisture the cure has drawn out of the fillets. The fillets would be super salty now, so fully rinse each fillet in cold water and pat dry to rid of any extra cure. Place fillets in separate clean/dry container without stacking them on top of one another. It is best to let this container sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours or possible up to a day to firm up a bit.
Get the smoker cranked up to a whopping 100 degrees and get your preferred wood chips ready. I used plum, but any mild fruitwood is fine.
Add some fresh black pepper on top, and smoke the trout with a good amount of smoke for about 2 hours. Smaller trout fillets may be done around the 1–1.5 hour mark and larger ones may take up to 3. The fillets should be smooth and glossy and not have any albumin coming up through the meat. Albumin is that odd looking whiteish-gray stuff and is a sign of too high a heat. Overcooking will result in a more flaky texture.
When the fillets are finished smoking, place on a cooling rack for about an hour to prevent sweating. Then place in a container and in the fridge for at least 6 hours to firm up.
From here you can take a razor-sharp knife and slice the fillets thinly across the grain at an angle. Any fish not planned for eating in a week or so should be vac-sealed and frozen.
This fish would be dynamite on a cheese platter or for brunch; add it to a salad or put it on a good bagel with heaps of dill. It is dang good!
Recipe and photos by Michael Vialpando. Find more recipes at the-wild-feast.com