I would like to try and smoke some trout this year. The fish that I usually catch around my house are usually around 12 to 18" with some bigger and some smaller. I was wondering what is the best way to clean them? Should I leave them whole or fillet them. Thanks
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I've done hundreds of whole trout over the years,usually wet brined & smoked starting around 140 1st hr then around 160 til internal temp of 145. They always taste great, but the trick is to smoke fish of about the same size. This keeps you from constantly opening the smoker to remove the smaller fish as they will finish 1st. I've done up to 15-16" fish whole with no problems. I just did 3 between 18-20" yesterday by simply cutting fish in half dorsal to belly for ease of handling and fitting into smoker.The only thing i'm doing different since coming onto this site is adding cure#1 to my brine as the larger fish take longer then 4 hrs. to come to 140. Yesterdays smoke took 5 + hrs.
- 522 Posts. Joined 11/2012
- Location: Arlington, WA
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I always clean them and just smoke the fillets. I don't see the point in doing the whole fish, just takes up room in my smoker with food that will not get eaten. I smoke the part of the fish that I'm going to eat and nothing more. Brine for a few hours only (they don't need much) and then on racks on the counter with a fan for an hour or so to get a bit of a pellicle. I smoke about 50lbs of Rainbow every year this way and they turn out fantastic.
I use a really simple brine. 20 cups water, 4 cups each of brown sugar and salt. Combine sugar and salt with about 5 or 6 cups of the water over high heat to get it all dissolved. Add the rest of the water (I use ice water) so it cools down and you don't cook the fish when it hits the brine. Let the fish brine for a few hours (in the fridge), the bigger the fillets the longer but never more than about 3 hours. Rinse, dry (with fan or in fridge), get a pellicle, smoke at around 140-150 until done.
See, no wrong way. It's just a matter of preference, when you want to deal with the bones. I leave mine whole most times because I give many away and let the people eating them clean their own. Rack lifts right out. I do plan on dry brining some larger fish fillets this season just to see if there is much of a taste difference.
- 22 Posts. Joined 11/2013
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I just did whole trout for 1st time yesterday. I had no time or plans to do it, Some friends showed up with the days catch and asked if we could try it out. So no brine time just salted, peppered, garlic salted them inside. put them in smoking tex at 125 for about 2 hours and turned up to 170 for about an hour. All I had with me was mesquite, so 2 oz. chunk was all I used, I figure it would to strong, This was purely trial and error. I was at camp with no access to internet. The fish turned out great, Skin and bones peeled right away. Everyone agree they don't want to try any brine in the future. I will brine at some point to see if we like it better or not but, It was so easy and quick this time might be hard to beat.