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Steelhead.....Trout or salmon?

Discussion in 'Fish' started by smokeamotive, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. smokeamotive

    smokeamotive Smoking Fanatic

    Went to Sams club yesterday and picked up what I though was salmon. Got it home and it said "Steelhead Trout" Thet were sitting side buy side in case and looked alike. My questions are such......

    1. Is Steelhead a Salmon or a Trout?

    2. Will Steelhead smoke as well as a Salmon?
  2. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Although I've never done fish. I'm pretty sure they are close relatives and should smoke the same.
  3. 5lakes

    5lakes Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Steelhead is a sea going rainbow trout. I prefer them to salmon. For smoking, you can do it the same as you would a similar size salmon. Incredibly delicious. Remember to post some pics.
  4. smokeamotive

    smokeamotive Smoking Fanatic

    Cool, I thought I perhaps made a big blunder when I pick them up by mistake. going to put them in the new MES 40 I got.just have to figure out which recipe I will use to brine and smoke them.
  5. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One tip if you are catching your own salmon up river... don't go for the brightest chrome fish you can. Instead save that well coloured fish for smoking. by the time they have been in the freshwater They have more of the tasty oils in them and they finish with noticeably more flavour than a fresh sea run Salmon will. Strange but true.
  6. smokeamotive

    smokeamotive Smoking Fanatic

    [​IMG]  Did not know that.... Thanks gnubee
  7. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    Steelhead are rainbows that take a salt bath for a few years. They are tasty, not quite like salmon but I'd still smoke them. [​IMG]
  8. Alot of Steelhead never ever see saltwater. They catch tonnes of them where my father lives and they never leave the local area. Some are wild some are farmed.
  9. bombcast

    bombcast Newbie

    taxonomically, steelhead were re-classified as salmon about 20 years ago.  They are not as oil and fat-rich as some of the Pacific salmon, notably sockeye, king and silvers.  They CAN be delicious grilled or smoked, like a previous poster mentioned, colored-up fish are better smoked, and brighter fish tend to be better grilled. Every now and then, in defiance of color or shape, you'll get an extremely strong tasting fish that you wished you hadn't cooked. 

    Best tasting grilled steelhead recipe I've found it quite simple - chunked, skin on, skin down over the hottest coals possible. Lemon pepper, and a shot of any Italian herb blend. Brush on a mix of melted butter and honey after the fillet is starting to dry at the edges, then carefully work a spatula between flesh and skin and flip meat back on to the skin. Scrape off and brown/silver fat remaining on skin side, and brush again with honey/butter.  This is good hot off the grill, but a LOT better served chilled.

    Serve with a cold lemon/dill mayonnaise. 
  10. iso

    iso Smoke Blower

    Steelhead: Oncorhynchus mykiss

    Sockeye Salmon: Oncorhynchus nerka

    Chinook/King Salmon: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

    Coho/Silver Salmon: Oncorhynchus kisutch

    Pink/humpy salmon: Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

    The oncorhynchus is a member of the salmonidae family which includes all Pacific salmon and trout.

    Good steelhead has firm flesh with bright silver skin. Downriver steelheads turn red. This happens after spawning and they float downriver while dying. There is much debate as to the tastiness of downrivers. Most locals prefer bright silver (aka brights) steelehead. Some will take downrivers for use as dungess crab bait. It can be either smoked or grill. Tastes great either way. Best way I have found thus far is to descale, remove pin bones (if filleted), and coat skin with evoo. Season lightly with salt and ground pepper. Steelhead, sockeye, Chinook, and coho are naturally good.

    I am not a fan of humpies. When I fished humpy season I take my limit to use as dungess crab bait. Humpies are oily and don't taste very good. But the crab really like them. There were people that would hang out in parking lots to fillet people's catch in exchange for the heads and guts. They use them for crab bait. Dungess crab is very good. :)
  11. badlab1

    badlab1 Newbie

    I'd love to try fresh trout or salmon again, but not from around here!!! All Lake Ontario salmonoid species taste like absolute garbage in my book. I've tried Kings, Coho, Steelies, Browns and Lakers (on the grill only). Smothered them in fresh garlic, butter, lemon and white wine--still yuck!!! Has anyone had good-luck grillin or smokin Great Lakes fish?
  12. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm sure they will be good no matter what they are. I have only smoked salmon but I have heard both are great. Good luck.
  13. bilder

    bilder Fire Starter

    I prefer dime bright salmon over the ones that have been in fresh water for too long as they head up stream.

    The flesh is firmer on the ones that have just come from saltwater.  The colored ones are ok for smoking, canning, or dog food.  They are horrible on the grill- too mushy.

    And don't get me started on farmed fish. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  14. jonboat

    jonboat Smoke Blower

    Are you talking about Lake O fish from out in the lake or spawners from the tributaries?  I've caught a few summer kings out in the lake and they are better than store-bought for grilling, but the ones I get out of the tributaries in the fall...  not so much. Smoked, however, the spawners out of the tributaries are delicious.  Before you write them off totally, smoke up the next one you catch and see how much better a bit of brine and some thin blue smoke can make them.

    To the original question asked on this thread - Steelhead are the same species as rainbow trout, the difference being habitat. Small bodies of water=smaller fish=rainbow trout. Big water=big fish=steelhead.  They are an anadromous member of the family salmonidae, and are native to the pacific ocean. They have been successfully introduced into fresh-water-only environments across the country. In smaller waters, they do not attain much by way of size, and are generally called rainbow trout. In larger waters (i.e. Great Lakes), they grow almost as large as their counterparts in the pacific and are called steelhead. Growing up in upstate NY, I used to go fishing for rainbow trout in the Finger Lakes tributaries each spring. Now I like to fish the Lake Ontario tributaries for steelhead in the fall and spring. In fact, I caught a nice 10 pounder just yesterday, and it will be going into my ECB as soon as I catch one more to go with it  They smoke up and taste very much like salmon, but maybe don't soak up quite as much salt during brining.  I did a salmon and a steelhead on the smoker yesterday, and the salmon tastes much saltier (both were Lake Ontario fish).