I just wanted to pass on that I tried smoking a Chilean sea bass today to see how it would work. I smoke fish all the time, and prefer those that are oilier than those that are delicate. As an example, mackerel and blue fish are great for smoking, Dover sole not so much. I thought that since Chilean sea bass is so full of oil, and I know from experience that it is great on the grill, that it would smoke beautifully. I was right, and I'd recommend it to anyone who finds this usually expensive fish on sale, as I did the other day.
First, and foremost, the fish MUST be fresh. No frozen fish for this recipe. Sea bass is already packed in ice when it is fished, and you don't want it refrozen. Find a good fish store that a) carries good fresh fish, and b) has it on sale!
I started with a one pound piece of fish that I left whole. I would normally have bought more, but this was an experiment and Chilean sea bass is expensive, even when it's on sale. I used a rub of sea salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder in order to give it a nice crust. The crust is one thing I like about grilling sea bass and I wanted to give the outside a bit of a crunch. I smoked it using alder chips in a Big Green Egg (BGE) at 170-180°. It took a couple hours to reach 140° at which point I removed it from the grill and served it. Everyone loved it.
It came out with a texture very similar to smoked sable, although not quite as buttery. The fish was juicy and moist and the rub on the outside offered a salty, crunchy bite. The smoke flavor was mild and just strong enough to differentiate it from plain grilling. This is definitely a recipe I will cook again, especially for smoked fish lovers.
I'll pass on one other tip I picked up from Melissa Cookston of Memphis BBQ. She was lecturing at the recent NBBQA conference in Mobile and suggested that it was better to add the rub to the protein before applying yellow mustard or oil. Her reasoning is that applying the rub first allows it to permeate the meat or fish pores, and then the mustard or oil helps lock it in. Reversing the process fills the pores with the oil or mustard first and blocks the rub from getting into the meat or fish. I don't know how true this is or isn't, but I've tried it on two different fish cooks I've done on the BGE, and both came out really, really well. I'm just sayin'...