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Hot Smoked Black Cod & Halibut a mess.

Discussion in 'Fish' started by rager65, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. rager65

    rager65 Newbie

    Tried hot smoking black cod and halibut yesterday over 8 hours reaching a temperature of 145 degrees.  The cod turned to jelly with water spilling out of it.  The halibut and the cod both stuck really bad to the racks, even though we sprayed them with Pam.  The fish are a mess.  Don't know where we went wrong.  We have cold smoked both of these fish whole without a problem.  Only think that perhaps we should not have smoked whole sides but rather portioned them instead.  We hot smoke whole salmon sides without fail, but these fish just didn't turn out.  Could it be the type of fish?  Why would the cod turn gelatinous?
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2010
  2. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds peculiar to me too.

    More info might help:

    Temps you held in smoker, and for how long each temp?

    Did you brine--with what & how long?
  3. rager65

    rager65 Newbie

    It starts at 90 degrees, 112 at stage 2, 119 at stage 3, 129 at stage 4, and slowly starts building up to 160 degrees at stage 5 and 6, then goes down to 145 degrees at stage 7 and smokes up to a total of 8 hours.  This works for our other fish (salmon, sturgeon and albacore).  We brined it in water, salt, soy sauce, and sugar over two days prior to smoking.  The only thing I can think is that we were smoking whole sides.  The black cod are small like 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each and the halibut were at the most about 2 inches thick.  We've smoked whole sides of salmon no problem.  It's the black cod that concerns me with the jelly texture. 
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks for the info. I thought it would help, but it doesn't.

    I don't see any reason for that to happen, including not cutting it into smaller pieces.

    That jelly texture is a new one on me.

    Maybe somebody that smokes at temps that low can help you.


  5. rager65

    rager65 Newbie

    Hi Bearcarver....Thanks for trying.  At the time that I posted originally I had not seen the fish yet.  My boyfriend had described it to me so I was going with his description.  When I got a look at the black cod it looked fine, then he told me he tossed the two fillets that were jelly-like.  Upon further investigation on this with black cod I happened upon an article that describes the jelly-like texture as being caused either by a parasite Kudoa, which causes a jelly-like texture or it could also be that black cod caught off the coast of California (a deep water fish) have a tendency to have a high water/low protein content due to adaption to achieve neutral buoyancy because they don't have swim bladders.  Either way, the problem is not how we smoked it but rather lies in the fish itself.  I'm thinking it's Kudoa because I've seen the Kudoa parasite in fish and it is jelly-like and I would think that if it were the high water/low protein problem it would have been all of the black cod fillets not just two of them.

    The problem with the Halibut as it turned out was because they were whole fillets that stuck to the racks despite spraying the racks with Pam and since it was hot smoked the fish simply fell apart while trying to get it off the rack.

    We normally portion the fish and we are able to better control the "stick" factor when it is smaller.  We have informed the customer that we can no longer hot smoke whole fillets with good results.  We gave them the fish without charge and it worked out fine because they love the flavor of both the black cod and the halibut.
  6. pokey

    pokey Meat Mopper

    Regarding the sticking problem, I've had Frogmats recommended to me. I haven't gone so far as to try one yet, but I thought I'd pass it on.

  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Those Frogmats are interesting. The guy doesn't say much. I'd like to know how hard they are to clean.
  8. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I saw pics of Cod with worms---Didn't thrill me!
  9. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

     Salmon has a lot more oil in it as compared to halibut and cod, these need to be basically grilled.
  10. shooter1

    shooter1 Smoking Fanatic

    Yo Bear I agree, I couldn't even find what the price was for one. I saw a link for custom size frogmats but couldn't find a price for a standard size. Of couse it could just be me.
  11. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I did a search & found some stock sizes & prices, but nobody seemed to want to talk about cleaning or washing them. Makes me wonder why.
  12. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    A couple years ago a commercial fisherman was on his way home from the coast.  He stopped by and traded two Sable or Black Cod for a  smoked chicken and one of the Sables smoked, what a deal as I understand most Sable go to Japan.

    As they are a very oily, I prepared them the way I do my Sockeye and they were truly a delicacy in the end.  

    What a shame if the Kudoa according to your research was the problem as they are an exceptionally good smoked fish.

    We each have our own way of cooking and if you have a way you prefer to smoke fish by all means continue. Seems to me that 8 hours is a long time to get to 145°. I set my smoker at 200° and place the fish in the cold smoker, normally before the smoker reaches 200° the fish is done and the heat is turned off, 140° with another 5° carryover, around 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The fish is allowed to rest in the smoker for a half hour in the 145° range for safety reasons and to soak up the residual smoke.

    Hopefully, you get another chance to do it again.

  13. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Duh, too much grey hair.  [​IMG]