smoking fish question


Active Member
Jeff D- My dad and i built a smoke house based on one from a lodge in eastern canada where we fish. This smoke house used to do all the smoking of fish on the entire river and it is the best smoked salmon i have ever tried, but it is so damn expensive we decided that we had to do our own. Quillicene fish are fantastic for this :)
Our smoke house holds 10 fish. About 8-9 paces away we build our fire and cover it with a hood. Out the top of the hood we have a pipe running to the smoke house. I'll post some pictures of it sometime soon.
Jeff D said:
D3: How did you rig up your cold smoker. That's the way my grandpa use to do it, but my wife won't let me have a refrigerator in the yard :)
a 55 gallon steel drum works nicely and is eaiser to move and hide than a fridge.


I smoke a ton of fish. All good advice so far. I usually use brown sugar and salt for my brine, 1 cup salt and 4 cups brown sugar as the ratio. Sometimes I do a little less salt. One thing that no one has mentioned that I really like is cutting candbar sized chunks in your meat without cutting through the skin. This allows you to pack your dry brine into the slices you've just made.

Here is a pic of some fish drying after the brine and before the smoke. You can sort of see the cuts I've made into some of the fillets.

It's really all in the brine, make sure you're patient in letting it get a good soak.

As for eating it, it's great on it's own, or get some crackers, cream cheese, and chop up some chives and then you're flavor country.

Unlike Zen I like to vaccuum seal my fish right away, I don't want a paper towell soaking up all the oils, I like to have that sealed for more flavor.


Trout have no politics
When it comes to the salt. Kosher is the only way to go. I also like the wet brine. I use Yoshidas marinade, garlic powder, onion powder, anything I can find.

Andy Kaus

its only kinky the first time
we've been doing dry cure on everything lately,steelies,salmon and even some trout. Equal parts salt and brown sugar,cover the meat with a layer,let sit 24 hrs, then brush off the excess and smoke away

Lex Story

Angler, Gastronomist, Artist, Jarhead, Geek
Even though I make my living making video games, I am also a trained and experienced chef who studies the art of meat preservation (Garde Manger in French terms) in my spare time.
Leave the skin on it adds some flavor.
Brining and salting are the same chemical process in that it applies a curative element (salt) to the protein, this changes the cell structure of the meat. I salt my meat and layer aromatics (herbs) and sugar on the fish. I wrap this all up in plastic wrap for a cure overnight. The next morning I rinse the cure off. I pat it it dry and then I let it form a skin on it uncovered in the fridge. This allows the smoke to better adhere to the meat, this skin is called a "pellicle" Then the fish go into the smoker. Cold or hot smoke, its all your personal preference.
Iodized salt is the "devil" in Chefing circles. Kosher salt is the best and cheapest overall, htere is no need to invest in "Fleur du sel"
Try different woods. I prefer mild such as cherry.
Change up your sugars for variety. I am really into Palm sugar (jaggery) right now. I have a pound of vanilla bean infused sugar waiting in the wings (insert evil laugh here)
always use fresh aromatics, stay away from lavendar, any citrus zest kicks ass. Some garlic always rounds it out.

mike doughty

Honorary Member
Wow more info. then i expected. another question i have is, first of my steel chunks are soaking in a brine, do you put the chunks in the smoker wet or dry. the booklet says to pat them dry and let them air dry for about an hour, but i always feel better getting the info. from people not a booklet.

Lex Story

Angler, Gastronomist, Artist, Jarhead, Geek
the instructions are correct albeit the abbreviated drying time to form a pellicle.
Pat it dry and leave it dry.
Some techniques use a wet/moist cold smoke so as to retain moisture in the meat.
For me its about tranference of smoke flavor to my meat. The cooking I finish under more controlled conditions such as a oven, like stated earlier.
This thread is hitting all of my favorite subjects, kinda gives me the jimmy legs.


Yeah, pat it dry then let it sit, I've let mine sit out for 6 or 7 hours before to form the pellicle. It helps if you sit it near an open window or there is some air movement in your house, it also helps if you can let it sit out on a rack, like a cookie cooling rack or something, not totally necessary though. I usually end up brining for around 12 hours, letting it sit for 6 hours, then smoking it for another 6-12 hours depending on the temperature outside and the size of my fillets.


Active Member
Have also smoked a ton of fish -
The first rule to producing the very best product is to use the very best fish you can get a hold of. If the fish is not good enough for the barbecue it is not good enough to smoke.

I too like a dry brine - I use either "clean" rock salt, sea- salt or kosher salt (and yes idozied slat leaves a meltalic taste), Layer the fish pieces covering each layer with a liberal amount of salt and let brine over night.

Rinse in cold water to produce desired saltness. The longer the rinse the less salty - I taste to make sure I have it right.

Lay the rinse pieces out on cookie sheets and cover with a liberal amount of brown sugar and let air dry for 1 to 2 hours and them into the smoker

A simple recipe that produces a very consistent product that everyone seems to like. If you want a real treat try some kokanee - hands down the best.

And by the way it is the very best served warmed from the smoker with ice cold beer!

Tight lines

Bruce Gibson

What's that?...umm tastes good.
I usually smoke about 10-20 salmon a year. We make a trip to Alaska each year and everyone asks me to smoke some of their fish. After years of experimenting, I keep going back to one recipe. I use 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup non-iodized salt, and 1qt of water, then brine in the fridge. If you have bad water, I reccomend using distilled water. The length of brine depends on the fish thickness. Usually for a silver or sockeye, it spends 8 hours in the brine. The fish is then set on racks to dry and I'll sprinkle a light coat of brown sugar on them. I then smoke until the fish is firm to the touch. If you close your hand into a loose fist then press on the flesh between your thumb and index finger...that is the firmness you're looking for. Time in a Little Chief smoker will vary greatly depening on the fish thickness and outside temp (thats why most people use the blanket). I converted an old fridge into a smoker and it works perfect (I'll post some pics later). I smoke using 2 pans of alder at 140-150 degrees then turn up the heat to 180 to finish it off. Let it cool, then grab a nice dark beer and enjoy. :beer1:

Non-Iodized salt is used because other salts will leave a metalic taste. Also, use only plastic or wood utensils and bowls. Metal will also give a metalic taste. Also, pull the bones out after its smoked. My father and I have discerning taste when it comes to salmon and we can really pick up on this. I've now exposed all of my secrets...except one.

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