Richard_the_Aughth

Question about smoking fish

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So I ended up buying an electric smoker earlier this year(big chief). It works great and I smoked bluefish and tautog which came out very tasty(at least to me). I am worried I am doing it wrong though. People say it takes hours to smoke fish but mine was done in 3 to 4 hours tops. I considered it done because the internal temp read 160f and it was almost like jerky. The pieces I was smoking were fairly thin so maybe that's why it finished so quick?

 

The reason I ask bringing this up is I plan to smoke some mackerel and want to be safe about it. I heard macks possibly have parasites so I want to make sure to thoroughly smoke them.

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5 mins ago, boulderdash said:

Most parasites live in the guts and crawl into the flesh after death, its best to clean them as soon as possible.

Unfortunately I will be buying this mackerel...

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I smoked some Spanish mackerel the other day.
2 hours @ 275 preceded by a 12 hour wet brine, rinse, and ~ 30 hours drying in the fridge (only because I had to go into the office on Tuesday, 12 would have been fine)

It came out great!

 

There are long and short methods to smoking just about anything, and moisture is always a concern as is food safety.
How long you smoke something is about how much flavor you want to impart.
The temperature must then be set to cook the food thoroughly (and/or dry it thoroughly) without overcooking in that amount of time.


My bible is a book by Steven Raichlen called "Project Smoke"   
There are recipes for smoking everything from brisket to ice cream in there and you can learn a lot of the science behind smoking food as well.

You didn't say what temp you set your smoker to, but my bet is you were set too high for that amount of time and/or you didn't keep a pan of water in the smoker to prevent the food from drying out.

Smoked fish shouldn't come out like jerky.  it should still be flaky, though I've smoked some trout that parts of which were very jerky like but still tasted great (chop it up and make a dip).

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I smoked some trout again the other day, and this is what they should look like when done.

 

IMG_20220601_093527.jpg

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2 hours ago, pogie_boy said:

I smoked some Spanish mackerel the other day.
2 hours @ 275 preceded by a 12 hour wet brine, rinse, and ~ 30 hours drying in the fridge (only because I had to go into the office on Tuesday, 12 would have been fine)

It came out great!

 

There are long and short methods to smoking just about anything, and moisture is always a concern as is food safety.
How long you smoke something is about how much flavor you want to impart.
The temperature must then be set to cook the food thoroughly (and/or dry it thoroughly) without overcooking in that amount of time.


My bible is a book by Steven Raichlen called "Project Smoke"   
There are recipes for smoking everything from brisket to ice cream in there and you can learn a lot of the science behind smoking food as well.

You didn't say what temp you set your smoker to, but my bet is you were set too high for that amount of time and/or you didn't keep a pan of water in the smoker to prevent the food from drying out.

Smoked fish shouldn't come out like jerky.  it should still be flaky, though I've smoked some trout that parts of which were very jerky like but still tasted great (chop it up and make a dip).

My smoker said it keeps temp at 165f

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2 hours ago, bob_G said:

I smoked some trout again the other day, and this is what they should look like when done.

 

IMG_20220601_093527.jpg

How do you know its ready before you cut it up though?

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If you want to be precisely technical, fish should reach an internal temp of 160*.  To do that all you'd need is a probe type meat thermometer. Cheap, under $10.

 

However, speaking strictly for myself, I like to think soaking in an overnight brine should eliminate any parasites or pathogens. The additional heat incurred during the smoking process should take care of the rest.

But I've been doing it long enough where I can just tell when they're done. The worst thing you can do when smoking something as delicate as fish is over smoke it. That's when you get that leathery, jerky like product.

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29 mins ago, bob_G said:

If you want to be precisely technical, fish should reach an internal temp of 160*.  To do that all you'd need is a probe type meat thermometer. Cheap, under $10.

 

However, speaking strictly for myself, I like to think soaking in an overnight brine should eliminate any parasites or pathogens. The additional heat incurred during the smoking process should take care of the rest.

But I've been doing it long enough where I can just tell when they're done. The worst thing you can do when smoking something as delicate as fish is over smoke it. That's when you get that leathery, jerky like product.

 That is actually what I am looking for, something like jerky. But to each his own.  Is fish jerky is really good with beer

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4 mins ago, Richard_the_Aughth said:

 That is actually what I am looking for, something like jerky. But to each his own.  Is fish jerky is really good with beer

Couldn't tell you. Don't make jerky and don't drink beer. :laugh:

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I smoke salmon and with their thick fillets it takes 8-9 hrs but again it’s the internal temp that determines if it’s done.  Sometimes I like it like jerky and others I prefer it on the moister side.  It’s always a fun fall Saturday project for me to drink scotch all day while doing yard work and smoking salmon or ribs.  Don’t forget to soak your hickory, mesquite or apple wood beforehand to get a good smoke. 

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17 hours ago, bob_G said:

Couldn't tell you. Don't make jerky and don't drink beer. :laugh:

Do you ever smoke store bought fish or only freshly caught?

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13 hours ago, greenhornet73 said:

 Don’t forget to soak your hickory, mesquite or apple wood beforehand to get a good smoke. 

 

That gives you steam, not smoke. There's no reason to soak wood in water. 

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13 mins ago, MikeMc said:

 

That gives you steam, not smoke. There's no reason to soak wood in water. 

What he said.  I also found that wet wood gives off an acrid smell that can be imparted to the fish. My opinion, ymmv.

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IDK but I use a gas smoker and not electric so I can’t adjust to a specific temp and dry wood burns, ignites and has to be replaced more often in my experience.  I’ve tried both ways 

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