Newbie please help

Discussion in 'Fish' started by rich s, May 16, 2008.

  1. rich s

    rich s Newbie

    Hey guys/gals, I need some serious help from the experts. I have tried smoking fish twice and both times they were completely unedible. Here was my last attempt:

    (1) 5lb carp cut vertically into 3 3" steaks. Skin and scales still on. Washed the fish very well and put into a saltwater/lemon pepper brine for 3 hours. I then took it out and washed it again and dried with a towel.

    Electric Brickhouse smoker with adjustable temp. I set the smoker at 160 degrees and let it heat up for 15 minutes. I then put in the carp in with the pan of water and water soaked hickory chips. I cooked them for 3 hours.

    Fish had virtually no smoke flavor and tasted VERY fishey. There was a ton of steam but not as much smoke as I thought there would be. The fish was whitish/yellow instead of the golden brown I am used to seeing at the supermarket. Any help as to what I am doing wrong would be greatly appreciated. The smoker has a small pan for the wood chips with a grated cover. I used about one handfull of hickory chips. Thanks in advance.

  2. daboys

    daboys Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've never tried it, but heard that if smoked right, carp is very good. Just can't get myself to try it.
  3. rich s

    rich s Newbie

    Smoked carp is VERY good and popular up here in Wisconsin. One butt ugly fish butthey do taste good smoked....properly. I also had some catfish mixed in with the carp and they tasted equally as bad. I am missing something but don't know what it is.
  4. erain

    erain Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    there are better fish to smoke, trout,whitefish,catfish,even crappie. however you can still get a pretty good fish from carp. fillet fish sides from carcass leaving skin/scales on. u can cut these in smaller pieces or leave whole. soak in a general fish brine for a day or so followed by a fresh water soak or rinse. you will have to play wiith this depends how salty u like.
    smoke til golden brown as u are used to and fish flakes. fish from colder water better and also smaller the better. dont use anything larger than what u did. i think fish you smoked was too thick aand didnt allow proper penetration of brine or thourough smoke enhancement. also by leaving in big chunks like that with backbone still in retains alot of the fat which give it off taste. i think you take meat from carcass u have better luck. should end up with boneless slabs. smoke meatside up til flakes, then flip for maybe 20 min and any fat left in will drain. catch in foil if poss. most people will pass on carp but the oldtimers used to smoke it eons ago. ck your local fish and game laws before leaving dead fish along waterway. up here it is illegal and can fetch u a fine.
  5. I had this very same problem, then found out what the problem was ... and now my fish is great everytime ... whether I brine, rub, or
    neither. The answer "DON'T USE HICKORY TO SMOKE FISH" [​IMG]

    Use a fruitwood. Last several smokes with catfish, I used apple. For some reason, hickory was making the fish taste bad ... some kind of funky after taste. But the apple fixed the problem.
    I also found out that the thinner the filet, and the shorter smoke time, it turns out better. Catfish around 1/2" thick is done in 90 minutes to 2 hours.
    I hear pecan is good with fish, but I haven't tried that one yet.
  6. emtee

    emtee Fire Starter

    Pecan is indeed a fine wood to smoke fish, but I predomenantly use apple. It's just easier to get.

    The key for me is brine time. The denser the fish, the longer the brine- though I am not familiar with carp and it's desity. I have brined tuna for two days before... and it was delicious. But Great Lakes walleye, stream caught wild trout (I catch), and wild (not farm raised) salmon are by far my favorites.

    Just my $000,000,000.02 worth.
  7. rich s

    rich s Newbie

    Thanks for the replies guys. I Will buy some apple today. The biggest thing I am unsure of is the temperature. I am only going to smoke fish in this. What temp and for roughly how long do I smoke. Just some place to start, I can tweak it from there as I get better at it.

    Other question, is the little square pan for the wood chips the way to go? The pan sits a couple inches above the heating element. Do I need to refill this pan every so often? Should I just put the chips right on the heating element? How long should I let the fish sit in the brine? Is just saltwater the best thing for a brine?

    Thanks again guys, sorry to be such a noob.
  8. rich s

    rich s Newbie

    What do you use for brine?
  9. I usually keep mine in the 200-225 range. And I keep the fish as far away from the heat source as possible.

    I have some pecan hulls I'm thinking of adding to my catfish next weekend's smoke ... hopefully they'll turn out okay.

    I've never used an electric smoker, so I can answer the other question, but I'm sure someone will be here shortly to answer that one.
  10. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here are a couple brines fer ya:

    Slaughterhouse Fish Brine #1

    1 Gal Water
    1 C Salt
    1 C Brown Sugar
    1 tsp Garlic Powder
    1 tsp Onion Powder
    1/2 C Soy Sauce

    Heat to boil and let cool, brine over night.

    Slaughterhouse Fish Brown Sugar Rub

    Brush Brined fish with honey
    Lay fish face down in Brown Sugar for 1 hour

    Slaughterhouse Fish Brine #2

    2 Qt Water
    1 C Non-idodized Salt
    1/2 C Brown Sugar
    1/4 C Lemon Juice
    1/4 Tbl Garlic Powder
    1/4 Tbl Onion Powder

    Mix all together, stir till dissolved, brine fish over night.

    Hope these hep ya out.
  11. superdave

    superdave Smoking Fanatic

    I smoke a lot of fish and get many favorable comments so I'll just tell you what I do and let you take what bits and pieces you choose to, if any.

    1) Your brine time is way too short for a true smoke. I brine 24 - 36 hours.

    2) I use a soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, apple juice and a chopped onion for my brine. I put it in a ziplock baggie and flip the bag about every 12 hours.

    3) After you rinse it, pat it dry and let it set for another couple hours in the fridge to allow the pectin to come to the surface.

    Sample of my smoked trout:

    4) Smoke for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours at the 200 - 225.

    5) My secret to my fish smokes is the maple syrup & brown sugar paste I lather the fillets with about a 1/2 hour before the smoke is done. It put a nice sweet glaze to the meat as I like my smoked fish with a slight sweetness.
  12. abelman

    abelman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here's what I do with fish. It's better to smoke a fillet than a steak in my opinion. However, this works well and I haven't seen it mentioned yet.

    Once you get done brining the fish, put it on a rack and then put it in the fridge so that cold air can circulate around the fish. This forms a pellicle, or a wax look of sorts.

    Once the pellicle is formed, as stated, use a fruit wood to smoke. I use Apple wood.

    The center temp of a smoked fish should be 140 internal. Just keep poking it every so often. As with cooked fish, it should flake. Technically, smoker temps can be anywhere from 85-250, ideally around 150 but it's a haul to get the fish to 140 so you need to figure out how patient you are.
  13. rich s

    rich s Newbie

    Now that is some good info!! I just caught a dandy catfish and carp. I flayed the carp and steaked the catfish. They are soaking on the brine right now. I just put them in so I think I will add some of these ingredients. I am going to get some apple wood after I am done typing and some of these other ingredients you have mentioned. I will let you know how they come out. Thank you soooo much for the help!
  14. geob

    geob Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I think Abelman hit it on the head. Fillet is the way to go instead of steaks. Leave the scales/skin on one side only.
    Good luck and better fishing.

  15. rich s

    rich s Newbie

    Ok guys, all I can say is THANK YOU! Fish came out awesome. I added a lot of the mentioned ingredients to the brine and smoked the carp and catfish at 200 for 2 hours, I then brushed on a mixture of maple syrup and brown sugar and cooked for an additional half hour. If you guys have not tried carp, you don't know what you are missing. You just have to get over what you are eating. I will keep experimenting but I have a great start thanks to all of you. Thanks again!

Share This Page