I searched the net including this website and didn't find much. I did find an informative post on lake-link and loosely followed that. His post states the brine will do 50-60 Whitebass, or 20 Whitefish, or 8 Salmon/Trout.
I had 10 whitefish which apparently turned out to be 9. No clue where the 1 bugger went. But for my purposes 9 is the same as 10 so I used the following brine but cut everything in HALF since I have 10/20 fish to smoke.
1st I mixed 1 quart water to 1/2 cup salt and soaked all fish for 30 min. This is supposed to eliminate any leftover slime and help leech out any blood. If you have ever handled a whitefish you know how slimy they are. The fillets were all rinsed very well taking care not to mush the meat. Once frozen and unthawed, whitefish are very soft so be careful.
So again, this is full brine recipe, I cut everything in half since I only have 10 fish.
2.5 gallons water
3 cups canning/pickling salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh coarse ground black pepper
2 tbsp cure
2 tbsp crushed bay leaves
2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
So my half batch looked like this.
I didn't scale these fish as they were froze scales on, and I didn't want to clean the mess. Some scales fell off as I rinsed and I took care not to knock more off. It looks okay, remaining scales are not falling into the finished product. I left the rib cages on the fillets since they are thin in that area figuring it would help even out the cooking process? Fish in the brine, I filled a gallon ziplock bag to weight down the fillets as they wanted to float. In the fridge they went at 11PM, left soaking in the brine for 6 hours. At 5AM I rinsed both sides of each fillet very well and placed on racks to dry in the fridge where they could form a pellicle layer. Whitefish, as mentioned, are mushy once froze and unthawed. They also have a lot of moisture and fat. From what I know about smoked fish, we want the fat but do not want the moisture. So after each piece was rinsed my wife dabbed each fillet carefully to help soak up as much water as possible without mushing the fish. Due to the high moisture content I decided to leave the fish in the fridge all day and overnight, a total of 27 hours drying in the fridge, uncovered, a nice pellicle layer formed and the fish are more firm and dry.
So at 9 am this morning I put the whitefish into my smoker which is at 100 degrees. I am using a home made electric smoker with an AMNPS and chose pecan pellets for this smoke.
Not sure how long this is going to go, and not sure what I'm going to do with temps. Following the post I mentioned earlier 4-8 hours at 100 degrees then up to 150 for a couple hours.
If anyone has a suggestion for time and temps I'm all ears???The fish are smoking as you read 3/15/2015.
I'm hoping to mimic the texture and taste of what the local markets put out, we shall see.
Edited by thepackerbacker - 3/20/15 at 3:43pm