Few questions on smoking whole trout

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chef k-dude

Meat Mopper
Original poster
Mar 11, 2015
Central Virginia
I plan to smoke some whole trout tomorrow that was recently gifted to me.

I've done some reading and I'm looking for opinions.

1-I have seen everything from a 1 hour brine to 12 hours...12 hours seems long for fish, and I'm not going to brine that long on my first run (I'm going to start with just 4 fish for my first try, I dont want to risk ruining all 20 or so I have), but what are your opinions on brining and time.

2-Also, any reason I should not also salt/season the whole fish even after brining? I plan to dry the fish well and use Jeff's basics, but he doesn't season the fish after brining. I'm just curious of opinions out there.

3-Smoking time and temps: Jeff and many others do not get much in to general smoking times. Jeff's article only talks of 145 degrees and how the fish will dry out if left too long but not about actual cook/finishing time in general. I have also read the same in other articles and lots of comments about "keep an eye on it or they will dry out". How do you know if you are drying the fish out? Reach in and pinch some off and taste it?

I've also seen stuff in these forums showing smoking fish for a very long time...4 hours and more. Whats up with that?

4-I see pics of smoked fish all over here, but no pics of the processing of smoked whole fish, like getting the meat off the bone, etc. anyone have any pics of what is done AFTER the smoking besides the glamor shots? I haven't read the entire site, so I may have missed something. I did a search and read some of the threads folks did here.

I have had great success with smoking salmon fillet http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/240222/first-hot-salmon-smoke-q-view

But, this will be my first whole fish smoke.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

I Smoke all my fish using a dry brine. 4:1 brown sugar/Kosher salt.

For whole trout remove the heads. Put layer of brine in a non reactive container. Pack brine in belly cavity place on top of rub. Cover with brine repeat if needed. Place in refer for 6-8 hours. Remove rinse fish well. Use toothpicks to open belly cavity. Place on rack to dry and form pellicle. Smoke. I would run your pit at 170-180. Pull when internal temp is 145.
I just use this basic fish brine recipe I found here.
Basic Fish Brine

2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Pepper
1 Tbs Ground Ginger

I brine the fish for 4hrs. Then pat dry, sprinkle with some pepper, prop the cavities open with a toothpick, and dry on the racks with a fan for about an hour for pellicle formation. I smoke at 200° with peach wood until internal temp is 140°. Then I lower the temp to 140° and maintain for 30 minutes. Carry over should take the fish up to 145°, but try not to get the fish over 150°. Tastes like the best kippers you ever had!
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