Before we start this lesson, I have to make something clear to you. I love fish, especially members of the salmonid family, you know, trout, salmon, and char. My all time favorite is a member of the char subfamily, the Eastern Brook Trout. After that, Rainbow Trout just tickles my tastebuds and makes me yearn to hit the streams, in spite of the biting bugs. This next recipe plays with the rainbow trout, that has gone to sea, and then come back into fresh water, the steelhead trout. It has this wonderful ability to challenge the fisherman, jumping into the air as it fights to rid itself of the hook. This beast demands a stout pole, patience, and tight lines. It’s a wary beast, and accepts only certain flies and baits, on the right kind of line (small diameter and invisible), with the right presentation. When a steelhead strikes, you know you’ve got a fight on your hands.
I love catching them almost as I love eating them. Usually, I just clean them, dust ’em in a bit of flour, and shallow fry them, salting when they’re put on the platter. The flavor and texture of this fish is second to none, and in my opinion, is right up there with swordfish, and brook trout.
One beautiful winter’s day, I developed a hankering for smoked fish. I knew that I had some beautiful steelhead fillets sitting in my freezer. I looked outside and saw this.
And I’m tellin’ ya Bill, it was darned tasty. And just so everyone knows, yes,this qualifies under the flavor category, umami.
“But GW, I don’t fish.”
Ok, let’s make some smoked fish! Oh my mouth is tarting to water. I’m gonna have to put plastic over the keyboard.
Smoked Steelhead Trout
Technique – Smoke
Tools – Covered Barbecue, Long . thin spatula, or fish basket, charcoal briquettes. Mesquite, maple, apple, or fruitwood chunks for fire
Ingredients: – Steelhead Fillets, skin on 1/2 cup salt 2 tbs. Brown Sugar 1 tbs. water
Pack the fillets in the salt. Let sit for thirty minutes. We don’t want this smoked fish to be real salty. This isn’t cold-smoked fish, and will be eaten hot, or fresh from the fridge. Cold smoking preserves the fish flesh. We just want to this delectable meal.
While the meat is sitting in the salt, place 4 charcoal briquettes on either side of your grill and ignite them. While all of that is going on, figure out a fabulous side dish to go with the smoked fish. Might I suggest steamed carrots with a maple-butter glaze?
Combine the brown sugar and water. Stir to make a smooth paste.
The meat has been sitting in the salt for its full time. Remove it, and use a damp paper towel to remove any remaining salt. Brush the fillet’s, both sides, with the glaze. Place the wood chunks on the hot charcoal, taking care to allow air-flow so as not to smother the fire. Put the grate back on top, and place the fish in the center, not over the charcoal. Cover and adjust all vents to the half-open position. Walk away. Find something exiting to do for forty-five minutes or so, like driving you cat crazy with a laser pointer, or engage your teenage daughter in a squirt gun fight (c’mon, it’s only water. It’ll dry. Just don’t hit your wife!)
Check the fire every fifteen minutes to make sure the fire is going, and the wood is smoking. If needed, add more charcoal, and, or wood. When the forty-five minutes has elapsed, check the fish, it should be firm, but still moist. Remove it to a warm platter and serve with those sides you had your spouse make while you were chasing your daughter with the squirt gun.
Playtime with the kids, topped off by a great meal, now that’s what I call a good day. And now you have bragging rights, if you made this in a snowstorm that is. 😉
From the kitchen of G.W.North May your hot things be hot, and your cold things be cold, and your cheddar be at room temperature. “No other success can justify failure within the home.” – David O McKay