Smokin' Yesterday's Catch - Spanish Macs

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Meat Mopper
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jul 19, 2005
Gulf Coast Florida
Thought I'd bring this tread back from the dead.

I am smoking fish, Spanish mackerel to be exact. Went fishing with my brother-in-law yesterday and caught grouper, snapper and later in the day, seven keeper Spanish mackerel. Spanish mackerel are voracious feeders and strong fighters. They have very sharp teeth which can bite trough 50 lb line in a snap. They can also bite through your hand if you are not careful.

Anyway, Spanish mackerel are oily fish. This makes them perfect to smoke. I don't really care to eat them any other way other than smoked. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and blue fish are all common fish in this area that are good to smoke. How do you eat smoked fish? In smoked fish dip.

Before smoking the fish, I like to brine them. This holds in moisture during the smoking process.

Here is the brine prepared:

The brine is 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of kosher salt, 1 1/2 cups white sugar, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 long squirt of chili sauce (**** sauce), 3 tbl black pepper, 2 tbl onion powder, 1 tbl garlic powder.

I brined the fish overnight. Here they are coming out of the refrigerator.

Next step is to take the racks out of the smoker and rub them with peanut oil so the fish won't stick (hopefully).
Remove the fish from the brine and rinse them completely to remove all traces of surface salt.

Place the fish on the racks skin side down and pat dry with paper towels.

Next step is to help them develop the pellicle faster. I put a fan blowing air over them while I get the smoker ready and smoking (45 minutes).


Updates to come as they occur.
Ok, the fish are in.


I want to keep the smoker below 250*, 225* would be better. The total time should be between 2.5 and 3 hours.

Good smoke going:


As with any locker type smoker, the temperature is not consistent through out the smoker. So, every hour I will rotate the racks.
Ok, one hour down and it's time to rotate.
These were on the bottom rack.


Here they are rotated with more wood added to the smoke box:


Next update in an hour or so.
Ok. Two hours down and one to go. Tested the bigget filet at the thickest part:


147* is most of the way there. I would like to see 160*. But the real test is flaking with a fork. However, the flake test is difficult with Spanish Mackerel as they can be mushy fish when cooked. I'll give it another 30 minutes to an hour.

Last rotation is complete:

More updates to follow.
Ok, they are done. Here are the filets on the racks cooling.


To verify doneness, check to make sure they flake all the way to the bottom.



Now that they have cooled enough to handle, carefully peel the skin off. With a little practice, the skin can be peeled off in sheets leaving a full filet. Remove the bloodline with a fork and the pin bones that surround the bloodline. Note: Spanish have bones that run the length of the fish in the middle where as Blue fish have bones around the rib cage.


Here are all 14 filets cleaned, deboned and ready for use.


I took a little more than 1/3 to chop and vaccuume sealed the rest.


The chopped fish was used to make a double batch of dip:


Here is the dip recipe:
1 pound crumbled smoked fish
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 stalk finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley
3 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
Put the smoked fish in a medium bowl and add the milk. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to an hour.
In a separate bowl, Stir in the cream cheese, onion, celery, parsley, relish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Add the fish/milk combo and mix well.
Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours until flavors have blended.
Serve with your favorite crackers.

Note: This makes a soupy dip. If you prefer a more spreadable dip, use 1/4 cup of milk or less.
Wow, That was alot more work than it used to be. Now that the
doesn't work, it will be more difficult to post my photo essays.

I hope everyone enjoys. I am eagerly waiting the return of the Macs.
Mike: Thanks for the time and effort with this thread. I found it to be informative and interesting. It sure looks like they turned out incredible. I do havve a question about florida fish as I have family members that frequently send some home. What has been your experiennce if any in smoking roughy, grouper, snook, dolphin and wahoo? Any suggestions or recommendations would be most helpful.

Thanks Matt
Awesome job with the pics and information. Up here we'll get blue fish in the summer. I smoked a couple fillets from some tide runners last summer. Came out awesome. I normally wouldn't touch blue, but I heard smoking them is excellent. Hope you enjoyed them! I'm totally jealous of your back yard...mine's covered with snow and ice...

I would not smoke roughy, grouper, snook or dolphin. There are too many ways to enjoy them from baking, to searing, to frying, etc. They are too delicate a fish to smoke IMO. They don't have enough oil/fat.

Wahoo would probably turn out ok, but we don't have wahoo on this coast, so I have never tried it.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for grouper that I made up with the help of an ESPN fishing show (Outdoor adventures):

Pan Roasted Grouper with Grilled Corn, Mushrooms and Plum Citrus Sauce

There are 4 layers to this Dish:

I. Plumb Citrus Sauce
3 large ripe plums cut in slices
1 tb sugar
1 inch knob of ginger grated
Zest and juice from 1 lime

Put all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.

II. Grilled Corn
4 ears of grilled corn cut from cob
1 handful of cilantro rough chopped
One large or two roma tomatoes chopped
1-2 tb(s) olive oil
Salt an pepper to taste

After grilling corn for 10-12 minutes (turning every 3) cut from cob and mix all ingredients in bowl.

III. Mushrooms
One package baby bell or portabella mushrooms or other mushrooms
2 tbs chopped basil
1 tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Coat mushrooms with oil salt and pepper and grill for 3 minutes per side. Once mostly cooked, cut into slices and cook in pan with basil for an additional 3 minutes.

IV: Grouper
1-2 lbs grouper cut into individual portions
1 tb olive oil per portion
Salt and peper to tasted

Marinate grouper in oil, salt and pepper in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Place in hot oven safe pan for three minutes on each side. Place pan with fish in 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily (donâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]t overcook).

Place ¼ corn in middle of plate. Place ¼ mushrooms on top of corn. Place one portion of fish on top of mushrooms. Place dollops of plumb sauce around plate. Garnish the cilantro.

Hey Mike,
Thanks for the refresh on the thread. Some how, I had missed it on the first go around. I also live on the gulf coast (Seagrove Beach). I understand that the Spanish are just coming in so after reading your well done thread, I think I'll go grab a few and follow your directions. I think next week if the weather holds. Thanks for great job!
Wahoo (fastest fish in the ocean) is excellent smoked. I also would not smoke dolphin because it's just too good not smoked. We don't have snook down here, and kings are disliked (they go to Miami wholesale, Cubans like them). They also beat up the fishboxes on the boat. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.