It's that time of year again where my favorite well stocked grocery lake starts producing a lot of healthy rainbows. This spring I plan on perfecting my smoked trout, pickled trout & trying out canning trout. Should be a great time. I've been eating fish for 30 years and smoking them for a dozen.
Here's where I'm starting. The last trout I smoked it came out soo good I titled it the best smoked fish I've ever eaten. It all depends on what you like but for me, my last batch was perfect. My perfect is, nice smokey crusty pellicle, semi-dry but semi-moist meat, not oily, medium smoke flavor, very mild if no sweetness, mild hint of salt & pepper, very very mild hint of onion & garlic.
I tried skin on and skin off to compare. Oh, I have an amzns smoker paired with a MES 40 so now that I have soo much more control over the key elements, I am trying to perfect my methods..
The Dry Rub: (i'll have to look at my notes for fish & spice weights)
Ground Red Pepper Flakes
Vacuum sealed. 4 hrs cured for fillets 1 inch thick or smaller, 6 hours for over 1 inch thick.
Rinsed well, soaked in water for 1 hour. Patted dry and set in fridge on racks to form pellicle for 14 hrs.
Cherry dust in my amzns.
120°F for 1 hr smoke
200-220°F for 1.5-2.5 hrs smoke until done
I always take the time to make my fillets boneless. Not only for myself but because I get a high request for smoked trout and many friends have kids or grandchildren. With my fillet style there are three methods of taking out the "Y" bones.
1. Peaked nose pliers, meat raw. Take the back side of a fillet knife and rub it against the grain of the Y bones so they protrude and stick out. Then, one by one pull them out with your pliers.
2. Carefully cut alongside the Y bones and pull / push out the bones with meat. You'll loose about 1/4'' of meat.
3. Rub knife against the grain of the Y bones then cure and smoke and pull them out after smoking. This is the easiest BUT your presentation / appearance will not be the prettiest because you will expose the white meat under the pellicle when pulling out the Y bones.
My preferred method is #1. You may pull a little meat with each bone but once you cure and smoke your fish, it'll cover the holes with the smokey pellicle and it'll look flawless.
I will update each method with pictures in my next smoked trout tutorial to better explain each method and educate those who are not familiar with Y bones. I've had smoked fish whole, steaked and boneless and you can't beat a fillet that's boneless.
I already have some modifications to do next time. (Depending on fillet size, lower initial temp + a bit more smoke to achieve a darker smokier pellicle)
This is my first controlled test so I don't have much data to compare but here are a few notes to follow.
• The skin on meat had more moisture, not oily moisture just more moisture between flakes. Not fishy flavored moisture either.
• The skinless meat actually had a slightly more fishy tasty due to the smoke penetrating the mud-line area (which I should have removed prior to smoking).
Here's a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. Thanks for reading!
Time to dry and form a nice pellicle
Pellicle formed and time for smokey love
Skin and no Skin - you can see the Y bones sticking up on the bottom fillet. Rubbing the back of your knife against the grain (head to tail) works great.
Finished smoking and time to cool - *** can you tell which fillet I pulled the Y bones out of and which one I did not? That's why I prefer my method # 1. Not only does the presentation appear better but you have an easier time getting all of the Y bones out.
Nice texture. I like a cross between dry and moist and flaky and stringy.
Edited by thoseguys26 - 11/8/12 at 9:22am