Nothing says summer like fly fishing and smoking meats. Why not combine the two and prepare your catch while also enjoying some outside time? This smoked trout recipe is pretty simple and doesn't require a lot of hands-on time. Read: lots of time to prop your feet up, crack open a cold one, and let the smoker do its thing.
- Rainbow Trout (or salmon)
- Kosher Salt
- Brown Sugar
- Alder Smoking Chips
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Smoker (electric or charcoal)
- Glass Dish (9x13 or larger)
- Sheet Pan with Cooling Rack
- Pastry Brush
How to keep smoked trout moist:
There are a few simple rules to creating perfectly moist and flavorful smoked trout.
- Brine the fish before smoking it - more on that later.
- Start the smoker at a low temperature and gradually raise it. This helps prevent white albumin from accumulating on the surface of the meat and doesn't dry it out as quickly.
- Use a glaze and baste the fish once every hour. The glaze soaks into the meat and creates a barrier between the meat and the heat so the fish doesn't dry out.
How to dry brine trout before smoking:
There are 2 basic types of brines: wet and dry. I prefer to use a dry brine because it's easier to find a container to put the fish in and requires less preparation time. If you use a wet brine, you need a container large enough to completely submerge the fish in the brine. You can easily dry brine a couple medium-sized fish in a 9x13 glass dish. The process is fairly simple:
- Start with clean, dry fish - gutted and heads removed.
- Make a mixture of equal parts kosher salt and brown sugar.
- Rub the mixture all over the inside and outside of the fish and place in a glass dish.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight. The moisture from the fish will create a liquid with the salt mixture.
- Rinse and pat the fish dry. Place on a baking rack on a sheet pan and refrigerate for another couple of hours, uncovered.
- Now it's ready to smoke!
What is the best wood for smoking trout?
Trout has such a delicate flavor, it's important to use wood that won't overpower the flavor of the fish. My favorite wood to use is alder but fruity woods like cherry or apple are lovely as well. If you're in the market for some great American-made and sourced grilling products, check out Wildwood Grilling. There are a lot of smoking/grilling products out there to choose from but Wildwood's products have the BEST flavor. I promise you won't be disappointed!
How to remove bones from trout:
We all know fish are full of tiny little bones that can be a pain to remove. But, if you smoke your fish properly, the meat will be so tender that the bones come right out. (as long as you find them all!)
How do you eat smoked trout?
Smoked trout is excellent on its own as part of a charcuterie board or snack plate. But, it also works great as an ingredient for dips, BLT sandwiches, pizzas, and more! However you choose to eat it, you're sure to enjoy this mountain delicacy!
Honey Smoked Rainbow Trout with Dry Brine
- 2 medium rainbow trout (about 1 ½ lb each)
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 cups alder smoking chips
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- Remove guts and heads from trout. Rinse inside and outside of trout and pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine kosher salt and brown sugar in a small bowl. Place trout in a glass baking dish and coat the inside and outside with salt/sugar mixture.
- Cover dish and refrigerate at least 12 hours.
- Rinse trout and pat dry with paper towels. Prop body cavity open with some longer wood chips. Place trout on a cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. Refrigerate uncovered for 2-3 hours.
- Soak wood chips for at least 15 minutes before using.
- Preheat smoker to 200°F to get the chips smoking. Reduce heat to 140°F and place fish on smoker racks.
- Increase the temperature of the smoker by about 10-15 degrees every hour to a maximum of 175-180°F. Gradually increasing the temperature reduces the possibility of white albumin accumulating on the surface of the flesh.
- Combine all glaze ingredients in a small bowl After trout has been in the smoker for an hour, brush them all over with the glaze and continue brushing with glaze once every hour.
- Continue smoking until internal temperature reaches 145°F, about 4-5 hours.
- Let fish cool until warm to the touch. Remove skin and bones while trout is still warm. Remove the skin first, then remove the flesh from the bones by gently pulling the meat away from the backbone. Carefully check for pin bones and remove them as well.
- Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 1 week or in a vacuum bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.