View Full Version : Steelhead Smoking Questions
03-11-2006, 07:54 PM
My gf got me a Little Chief smoker this past Christmas. I had a few questions.
I cleaned the fish and the fillets were still real thick- do you guys steak them? (make chunks?)
How long do you leave them in the brine? I used a very simple non iodized salt and sugar combo... nothing fancy.
What color is the best meat color with steelhead? My freshest chrome had the darkest meat- and my more colorful fish had close to white meat... seemed odd? I was reading about steelhead meat online and it said it can range from white-orange- to red and all was edible. Just curious what turns out best.
And finally, How long in the smoker?
Thanks in advance... I'm hoping my test run is at least half way decent.
03-11-2006, 10:49 PM
well i have no clue how to smoke it, but ive have eaten it smoked, it tastes better then just grilled or baked thats for sure, but still taste like crap
03-12-2006, 09:35 AM
I prolly should have put this in the general discussion, I know several members here have had real good success making it. I just went out to the smoker and it looks REAL good- will try some after i get done fishing today.
my buddy made some last week, tasted great. My girlfriend wouldn't come near me for 24 hours, said my breath could take down an army. I'm not exactly sure how he did it but he has a smoke house, used hickory chips, and finished it off in the oven. It sounded a little odd but tasted great.
03-16-2006, 02:00 PM
CW, How did it come out? I didn't see this thread 'til now.
1. Don't cut it into chunks
2. Not more than three hours in brine.
3. I read in a Steelie thread that the white meat isn't worth eating.
4. How long to smoke is trial and error according to smoker and temperature.
Here is something I posted in another thread a while ago. I haven't smoked Steelie, but it works well for me with lots of fish.
... here is a brine recipe from the great old Indians first-baseman Boog Powell. He lives in Key West now and is the next-door neighbor of a friend of mine down there. He makes the best smoked mackerel I have ever tasted. Great for salmon, too, or any smokin' fish.
Boog made a great smoked fish cream cheese ball, too. I'll have to look that up and post it.
BOOG'S SMOKIN' BRINE
2 qts water
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tblsp black pepper
6 bay leaves
Let the fish stand in the brine for no more than 3 hrs.
Smoking temperature should be in the 160-180 degree range. Time varies depending on heat, usually about 8 hrs. or 2 six-packs
03-16-2006, 05:07 PM
Here's one I got off the internet, although I've never tried it.
I prefer Weber Kettle grill for smoking. I find I get better results than an expensive smoker. The way I set up the Weber for smoking is to open the vent on the bottom of the grill in the direction of the wind flow completely open. I build a coal fire right underneath the open vent. I have a cake pan filled with water on the opposite side. Clean your top grilling grate very well and spray it with some non stick pam. All the greases and fats will drain off into the pan too. Keep the grill covered at all times and use one of those metal kitchen thermometers to check heat flow. Keep coals nearby to regulate heat. Start adding your soaked chips to the coal fire when there is nothing but a gray coal ash on top and a good glow underneath the heat. Guys do it all different than the next guy, but I keep my temp always at 200-150 F for a slow smoke. Just keep an eye on the meat. Don't over smoke it. You will know if it turns black. Keep the therm. over the food, placed right through the top vent which should be over the food.
You can never brine TOO long. Here is what I use for a brine mixture. This is per. 10 lbs of Steelhead or Salmon (I use the same recipe for salmon too).
1 cup of pickling salt (or any salt that is non-iodized)
2 gal cold water
2 lbs. dark brown sugar
1 bottle red or white wine
1 32 oz bottle Teriyaki sauce
6 oz each of garlic and onion powder
4 oz of pickling spice
1 oz of cinnamon
1 oz of mace
1 whole jar of Spice Rack Italian Seasonsing
Mix all the ingriedients in a 5 gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag pulled over the brim. Let stand for one hour and set outside. It's a great temp outside for smoking.
Place fish filets in brine and keep skin on Steelhead. Stir brine every two hours and marinate for at least 12 hours. After the brine, remove fish from brine and rinse brine off thoroughly in cold running water. Let fish air dry for at least 1 hour, you want the flesh to get a "tacky" surface on it.
As far as what to use for smoking chips and where to get them I suggest two you do not make a huge issue out of this. Chips are not hard to find. I always use Hickory, Mesquite, and Apple wood chips for Steelhead. For Salmon I use Mesquite, Alder, and Cherry chips. Soak your chips in water for about an hour before smoking. Test the coals with the chips before you start to smoke and look at the temp. When it gets to about 200, lay you fish on the rack over the pan and close the top immediatley. Chips will smoke for about an hour. Smoke fish for at least 6 hours.
03-16-2006, 05:37 PM
you can also do in your own oven with a salt morder
03-18-2006, 06:10 PM
Thanks guys- I knew I should've posted in the lounge as someone idicated- they just didn't see it... I rarely frequent this forum myself.
Thank God for the internet as there were a million and 1 resources and I pretty much just calmed myself down and began to read- and read- and read.
I ended up curing them for about 2 days in the brine and they were in the smoker for just over 16 hours. They ended up turning out amazing! I woulda been happy with half way decent but they turned out way better than I could have expected. My gf and I loved it and I even made a spread out of some and took it to work. I have released nearly every steelhead I've ever caught- even frowned on folks keeping them- but I must say, this experience has changed my opinion. I don't plan on being a catch & keep steelie fishermen by any stetch but I will say- an occaisional fish, will be food.
Here's the spread I made:
Smoked Fish Spread
It is possible to smoke too much fish, so I called Paul's mother for her famous fish dip or spread. Here it is, with a few minor changes.
1 cup shredded smoked fish (Don't use hard end pieces.)
4 ounces "lite" cream cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
a dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped curly parsley (optional)
In a food processor, mix all the ingredients together until smooth. If it's too thick, add more lemon juice. Spoon into a bowl and top with chopped parsley (the green will dress up the grey dip, making it look more appetizing). Spread onto crusty bread, toasted pita wedges, or crackers. Also, it makes a great bagel sandwich with lettuce, red onion, and tomato. Delicious!
O yea, I did take a pic of a couple of the trays after smoking:
03-18-2006, 06:41 PM
OH BABY, THAT LOOKS GOOD !!!! I'm in line already !!
03-18-2006, 07:57 PM
I brine overnite and smoke until the meat just starts to separate. I also slightly pre-dry my fillets under the broiler (both sides)after brining and pelicle formation. You can separate the skin from the meat after the brief broiler exposure and then scrape off all the red meat with a butter knife.
The orange meat is the best in my opinion but the whiter is also good.
Suggest you discard the belly meat as any contaminants will be located in that region of the fish.
03-22-2006, 02:55 PM
I use a brine with maple syrup, brown sugar canning salt and some crushed red chilies and some orange juice or apple cider/juice.
I brine overnight, remove and do a quick rinse and then pat with a paper towel and air dry in front of a fan to get the pelicle to form.
Smoke several hours with alder, cherry and or apple. Sometimes brush with a honey/chilie/apple juice mix to glaze.
Next time you keeep one, try making gravlox!
03-22-2006, 04:21 PM
Gravlox out of steelhead? ... blech! I reserve that for high grade wild pacific salmon. Smoked steelhead and steelhead patties can be "good" but I can't imagine making gravlox out of them (for the uninformed gravlox is cured and pressed salmon - no smoke and it is not heat cooked). What's next steelhead ceviche?
03-22-2006, 08:33 PM
Oh no...now we have gravlox snobs!!! :D I would not use just any stealhead...during the cold water period and from the lake. Not some worn out under fed stream fish! Pacific salmon are fine, but a traditionalist will insist on wild atlantic salmon. I'll admit it would not be the same as salmon, but I think you could get pretty decent results.
I've had plenty of steelhead that have made excellent eating. All depends on condition, care and prep...just like any meat.
I'll pass on the ceviche, oily fish don't fit that bill...now a walleye or some crappie....
How do you make your gravlox? I use canning salt, fresh black pepper, a bit of sugar and fresh dill instead of dried. I let it cure for about 5 days or so.
03-23-2006, 09:50 AM
Haha - well gravlox is snobbish food in the first place. Your right about wild atlantic salmon (although I have used pen raised atlantic salmon). Your recipe is close to mine - fresh herbs are a must. I add a shot of vodka poured over the fillets and I wrap mine in saran wrap and weight with about 10lbs of dumbels ( use glass dish for a uniform press - extra weight shortens the press time). I unwrap the fillets am and pm and spoon the juice back over the fillets and flip them. Typically takes 3 days to process. I like mine sliced thin on an "everything bagel w/ garden vegetable cream cheese, capers, and maybe some sprouts. I found the trick is using fairly uniform thickness pieces. You are right about the steelhead eating - dependent on initial quality of fish and prep processes.
If you like ceviche and squid you have to try it - phenominal and the best method i've found for non-chewy squid. Get a pan smoking hot and sear for 15 seconds just to impart some grilled-smokiness to it (do not cook though).
Why am I suddenly hungry? LOL...
03-23-2006, 09:55 AM
I have never tried gravlox but have wanted to try it, can you get it in the grocery store or do you need to find a specialty meat shop?
Coolwater, that smoked steelehead looks GREAT!
03-23-2006, 11:01 AM
Your right, it is rather snobish food! I'll have to try the capers with it. I've hit it with some vodka and also a bit of lime juice. Like it on crackers, bagels with cream chees or even some mayo.
I'll try that with the squid, sounds pretty good.
Twistertail, I've never looked in the stores for it, I imagine it would be pretty pricey. I just started a few years ago making it from a recipe from a game and fish cookbook I have. Pretty easy to make, the most important factor is buying good quality wild caught fish. Alot of the farmed junk has orange die added. If you catch your own somewhere, you want a chrome fish, not one that has been in the stream amd turned to its spawning phase. I use fillets that are about an inch to an inch and a half thick and often remove the tail portion for other recipes.
03-23-2006, 11:18 AM
Careful with the acidic fruit juices or you will have ceviche not cured fish (gravlox). Capers are good - be sure to try the veggie or onion cream cheese. I usually add a dash of lemon pepper as well. Enough talk of food i'm starving now..LOL..shoot me a pm and I will send you the squid ceviche recipe later
Twistertail - it is very easy to make it just takes a few days of attention to turn it,etc. The cure ingredients are essentially what you use for brine - the operative part here is the weight which presses out the fliuds (v. smoking where the fluids are evaporated). It does result in a better grained product than smoking (altough no smoke flaor :( ) but be aware that the consistency is not like smoked fish - it is a bit chewier/ softer and you should always slice across the fillet on an angle like this / to cut thin (1/8-1/4" thick) slices.
03-23-2006, 11:23 AM
Come to think of it I may have had it before. A few years ago in Vegas at a Wofgang Puck place I got a breakfast dish that was a bagel with some type of dill cream cheese and very thin slices of salmon on it. I dont remember what it was called but just thought it was smoked salmon, it was GREAT.
03-23-2006, 03:30 PM
Yep..what he said. I don't squeze any lime juice on until I serve it up.
I stayed at a place in Annville Pa that made eggs benedict with gravlox and smoked salmon. Pretty tasty.
Let me know if you want the recipe, it is very easy to make. Traditionally served with a mustard dill sauce and crusty bread or crackers. Maybe a shot or two of Vodka, gin or aquavit to go with it.
03-23-2006, 03:34 PM
Thanks for the offer. I would love to try making it but I know its something I will probably never get around to so I wont waste your time with the recipe but thanks.
03-24-2006, 09:54 AM
Sure thing! If you ever change your mind let me know.
05-23-2006, 08:25 AM
I smoke about 60lbs of Salmon and Steelhead a year and here is my recipe.
Basic Fish Brine
4 gal Water
5lbs Kosler Salt
1lb Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Lemon Juice
2Tbs Liquid Garlic
2Tbs Liquid Onion
1 to 2 lbs - 2hrs
2 to 3 lbs- 3hrs
3 to 4 Lbs-4hrs
4 to 5 lbs- 5hrs (Steelhead Brine 4 Hrs)
Rinse with Cold Water and dry with Fan.
Smoke at 130 Deg until done,can be up to 30 hrs
I use Apple and Cherry Chips 50/50 and soak them before using
so they won't burn up as fast.Check Chips every 4 Hrs.
Vacum Pack and freeze them and they will be good for a year.
Your Smaller Pieces will get done faster so I seperate them by size while smoking.
As I have Froze my Fish before I smoke them the whole deal takes about 3 days.You can Smoke Fish a lot faster but if you want really good fish this is the way to go.
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