So, you’re out fishing on the lake. Suddenly, your fish pole line tightens and the pole starts dancing with caught fish. You pull back on your fishing pole, reeling in as fast as you can, while holding steady not to fall into the lake. Well done, you have caught a trout! Throwing the little guy in the cooler, after de-hooking, you begin to think about the delicious feast you’re going to make with your smoker back at home. But do you really know how to smoke trout properly?
Smoking trout is a great way to enjoy one of the healthiest fish in this planet, and learning how to smoke trout is necessary to impress your family and friends. Trout in itself is unbelievably delicious, and a great source of potassium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B. The fish can be used in different soups, meals, appetizers, etc. Smoked trout is the more popular ways to enjoy the delicacy. Yet, many don’t experience smoked trout because it is very expensive to purchase. The good news for you is that it is possible to smoke your own trout by following this guided, step-by-step procedure. In no time, you will gain a new skill, and will be enjoying a delicious dinner.
Step One: Get the Fish Ready
Before anything else, you need to prepare the trout for the smoking process. Fresh trout will need to be gutted and cleaned. Remove the entire inside of the fish including gills and blood lines. Frozen trout will have already been gutted. This will only need to be thawed, then the head and tail will need to sliced. Make sure to wash the fish after the gutting/cutting process. Then, cut entirely along the backbone, placing the fish flat, scale side up.
Step Two: Season or Brine the Little Guy
There are many different seasoning options for smoked trout. You can make your own brine, which is a mixture of water and salt and usually used in a preservation process. If you’d rather not submerse the trout in brine, you can simply season with a salt and other spices throughout the flesh of the fish. You can also add a marinade to the trout. These marinades can be found in the stores premade, or you can make you own recipe.
Step Three: Get the Smoker Ready
For a moment, you’re ready to leave the fish set while preparing the smoker. A smoker is relatively simple to use. First you need to add the woodchips or pellets into the smoking pan. There are a variety of woodchips and pellets available to smokers, which will add different flavors to the trout, depending on the choice. For a smoky flavor, you’ll want to consider oak or apples woodchips or pellets. If you want a stronger smoked trout flavor, the suggestion is either hickory or mesquite. If this is your first go-round with smoked salmon, a milder wood is best used.
Step Four: Fire it Up
Now that the smoker preparation is complete, you’ll need to light the woodchips. The goal temperature for smoking trout is 150-degrees Fahrenheit. This is much lower than the 220-degree recommendation for meats. Should the temperature of the smoker reach 220-degrees, for the initial smoking, the trout will burn making the complete process obsolete.
Step Five: Time for the Fish
Once your smoker has reached the desired temperature of 150-degrees, it is time to place the trout on the smoker’s grate. Be extremely careful, as the smoker is very hot at this point. Should more than one trout be prepared for smoking, it is imperative that there is ample room in between the fish so that they are evenly cooked. This is important to remember because uneven cooking of trout can result in a rawness, while some parts will be hot. Just like any other fish or meat, eating undercooked or raw trout could lead to illness.
Step Six: Smoke the Fish
After placing the fish on the smoker grate, close the lid, and let the trout smoke for a half hour (thirty minutes). During this time, do not open the lid. In doing so, you could interrupt the smoking process.
Step Seven: Turn the Heat Up
While in the prior step, it is suggested not to get the smoker to 220-degrees initially. Well, now is the time to increase the temperature to finish out the smoking. Once that half hour session at 150-degrees is finished, add more woodchips to the smoker and some coal as quickly as possible. Keeping the lid of the smoker open too long will result in loss of heat.
Assuming the temperature stayed relatively the same during the adding process, it’s time to smoke the fish a little more at the higher temperature. Allow the smoker to get to 225-degrees. Continue to smoke the trout for roughly twenty-five to thirty minutes. Again, do not open the lid.
Step Eight: The Trout is Ready to Come Off the Smoker
Commencing the thirty-minute smoking at the higher temperature, the trout is ready to be removed from the smoker grate. Just like any smoker or grill, safely remove the trout with proper equipment, and plate the trout.
Step Nine: The Best Part of Smoked Trout
The best part of smoking a trout is obviously eating the creature. So many people enjoy the taste of smoked trout. If you’re up for it, share the smoked trout with family or friends for a nice healthy dinner or a delicacy at a summer party. Either way, enjoying the smoked trout is the best part of the smoking process. If you have any leftovers, it is easy to store in your refrigerator to eat at a later time. Smoked trout can also be used in a soup, chowder, or an appetizer… if you have any leftover.
Some Last-Minute Tips and Warnings on How to Smoke Trout
- You’ll want to let the trout dry in a cool place for up to a day before smoking. You want the fish to be able to hold any smoke in its flesh.
- Make sure to properly and safely handle the smoker. If it is your first-time of smoking anything, you’ll want to follow the safety instructions that come with the product.
- Be sure to calibrate all your thermometers before cooking to ensure correct temperature taking.
- When smoking trout, you want absolutely follow the cooking times exactly. It is possible to over-smoke/cook the trout causing it to dry out.
- You do not want to eat undercook trout. This can cause foodborne illnesses that we all want to avoid.
- It is recommended that you remove the bones and the skin of the trout before freezing, keeping only the meat of the trout.
Accomplishment at its Finest
As you now know how to smoke trout, you can impress your family and friends with your smoking skills. People will be impressed, and don’t be completely surprised if they show up at your door demanding more of your smoked special treat. It is a very simple and easy process that can be done by anyone with the best smoker out there and guide on how to smoke trout. Of course, as with any smoking or cooking process, practice makes perfect; so don’t be discouraged if the first time the trout does not turn out exactly as you’d like.