My local oriental grocery store had some beautiful rainbow trout for sale. I wanted to show you how to smoke trout. The recipe is easy and they turned out phenomenal!
I love the seafood selection at the Lotte in northern Virginia. I feel like a kid in a candy store! Ginny was out of town, so this was the perfect opportunity to try a smoked trout recipe.
The gentleman behind the counter was kind enough to rinse the fish and packaged it up nicely.
🍲 Brine Preparation
I got home and made a brine. This was about one gallon of water, one cup of brown sugar and one cup of kosher salt. I mixed them together well until it was dissolved and placed the fish in the container to soak for about six hours in the refrigerator.
Before bedtime, I took the fish out of the brine, rinsed them well and laid them on a tray normally used for cooling cookies (don’t tell Ginny!). I covered it with Press-N-Seal and set it back in the fridge overnight.
I woke early in the morning to get the smoker going. It was well south of 32 degrees outside, so I was a bit worried that I would have to free the lid from being frozen shut, but I got lucky and it opened just fine.
There was just a little bit of charcoal left in the bottom from my last grilling, but as this recipe calls for very low smoking temperature, I dropped in my homemade firestarter and let the grill heat up.
I had some extra alder left over from my last trip to Dizzy Pig and soaked it in a bucket of water. Next time, I would like to try some fruitwood. I bet that nice, mild smoke would complement the fish nicely.
Setting the Smoker Temperature
After about 30 minutes, the charcoal was burning nicely. I placed the plate setter and grating on the Big Green Egg, and closed the top and bottom vents to less than ¼”.
After another ten minutes, the temperature was stabilized at 225 degrees and it was time to put the fish on the grill.
🔥 Smoking Instructions
I kept one of the whole trout plain. For the other trout, I added three pads of butter and a couple of lemon slices to the body cavity and added another couple of slices of lemon on top.
Step One: Right before putting the fish on the grill, add the smoking chips. If you are using a Kamado grill, use the grate tool to lift the plate setter slightly and drop in about half of the wood chips. No problem.
Step Two: Set the trout directly on the grate.
Step Three: Keep an eye on the temperature and made sure it stays less than 225 degrees. That can be a bit of a challenge with the plate setter in there. It will continue to heat up and can cause problems later in the cook. If it does start to get too hot, add a disposable pan filled with ice cubes between the grate and the plate setter. Try to close the vents a bit more too.
Step Four: With about an hour left in the smoke, add rest of the smoking chips. Unlike many foods, I wasn’t too worried about it becoming too smoky, as the outside skin would collect most of the smoke flavor, but it is later discarded.
Step Five: Smoke it until the temperature of the fish reaches 160 degrees. This took about 3.5 hours, but the amount of time will vary significantly, so keep checking the temperature.
📌 Items to Note
After the trout cools, it is time to pick the meat. Trout are very bony fish. The best way I found to remove the meat while minimizing the number of bones was to peel the skin of the fish up from the belly to the dorsal fin (on top). There is a very nice filet of meat there. The spine is about ½” below the top of the fish, so use your finger to pull the meat away from above the spine. You’ll quickly feel the bones.
After the top meat is removed on one side of the fish, you should see the exposed spine. Using your fingers again, slowly peel the filet below the spine, down towards the belly. With any luck, the bones stay attached to the spine, and meat comes off easily.
With one side of the fish cleaned of meat, hold the tail in place and gently lift up on the spine from the tail to the head. Do it gently, so the spine and all the bones lift up. That leaves the filet easy to remove from the other side of the fish.
I can almost guarantee you’ll still get a few bones in the meat, but I definitely had a lot fewer on the second fish I tried. So, practice definitely helps here.
🐟 How Does It Taste
I was extremely surprised how mild and tender the smoked trout was. The heavy smoke smell of the skin turned into a mild, well-balanced flavor of the meat. The trout meat can be eaten warmed or cooled. You have to love that! I had some crackers, cream cheese and a bit of the smoked trout. Oh my! Was that tasty!
💡 Recipe Uses
As you can imagine, Ginny is excited about coming home to make something out of my efforts. I just give and give here! 😀
Here are some ideas to use your smoked trout.
- Make your favorite salad and lay a few slices of the smoked trout on top of the bed of greens.
- Mix together a couple tablespoons of softened butter with a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill in your mini food processor to create a nice spread for sandwiches or on crackers.
- Make a delicious smoked trout dip. Mix cream cheese, yogurt, and chives together in the mini processor. Hand mix the trout with the mixture to keep the larger pieces. If you want to mix it up a bit more, add the zest of one lemon. Another variation is to add 1-2 minced garlic cloves. You just want a little zip from those not an overpowering taste of the garlic.
- Create a nice bagel with softened cream cheese and lay a couple of slices of the smoked trout on top like you would lox.
- We have also seen people do a simple bread/cracker with avocado and the smoked fish. Three ingredients and that’s it.
- The big one that I’m anxious to try is to make a “grown-up” macaroni and cheese with the trout using fontina and gruyere cheeses. Gently mix in the fish before baking off so you still have those nice pieces in each bite!!
The options are really endless but at least you have a great idea of where to start!
Other Smoked Recipes
Smoked Salmon – This is my favorite all-time classic smoked fish recipe. It is hot smoked and glazed with honey for an insanely delicious flavor!
Smoked Fingerling Potatoes – I can’t get enough of this simple smoked potato recipe. If you’ve already spent the time to get the smoker set up, give this delicious side dish a whirl.
Smoked Chicken Thighs – This includes a dry rub during the smoking process and an easy homemade BBQ sauce for the final few minutes. The flavors are simply out of this world!
Here’s hoping you like smoking fish as much as we do!
For the Brine
- 1 gallon Water
- 1 cup Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 whole Trout
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 4 slices Lemon
Brine for the Trout
- Combine the salt, brown sugar and water and stir until there is no sediment at the bottom. Add the trout to the water and cover.
- Place in refrigerator overnight (or for at least six hours)
- Remove the trout after the brining and rinse the fish off thoroughly
Smoking the Trout
- Preheat the smoker to no more than 225 degrees. Add your favorite smoking chips. I chose alder.
- Add the fish directly to the grate. On one fish, I added lemon and butter.
- Let the fish smoke until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. It took a little over 3 hours.
- Remove the fish, let cool, and debone. It’s time to serve!