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Hot smoked fish in a gas oven?

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  • wlark May 17, 2007 01:15 AM

I am out to recreate an amazing dish that I was served at a dinner party. The recipe in question is a hot smoked wild salmon, which was smoked in a regular outdoor grill using some combination of wood chips that had been soaked in water and then placed over hot coals in the grill. The result was spectacular. The fish tasted of the wood flavors and was perfect to eat right away. I don't think that this method preserves the fish and that is not what I want to do anyway.

My dilemma is that I live in a very small apartment. Thus I do not have a grill and don't have the money to buy a stove top smoker or any other type of indoor smoker, also I must note that the ventilation is poor in my apartment. I was thinking that maybe I could line the bottom of my gas oven with aluminum foil and place water soaked wood chips on top of the foil and then could slowly smoke the salmon directly on the oven racks at around 200 degrees. Would this work? How long would it take?

I am not a very experienced cook and this may seem like a totally ludicrous idea, but I am just dying to relive the flavors of that perfect salmon. Any suggestions or recipes would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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  1. If you follow your current approach you will smoke yourself out of the house. It is a dangerous plan.

    If you don't want to buy a stovetop you need to construct something that works the way. The smoke needs to be concentrated around the fish and contained within the oven as much as possible. Honestly, I think it is a bad plan if you have poor venitilation. Smoking inside causes a lot of smoke and a homemade device will even be more porous.

    Send a thank you note to the hosts, praise the fish, and hope to get invited back.

    1. I would agree with the other poster. You are setting yourself up for a possible fire if you follow through on the plan you posted above. Some things cooked outdoors are not safe to do inside (like the deep fried turkey).
      Consider yourself lucky to have had such a nice meal. Do write an overly effusive thank you note to your host, mentioning that the fish was the most delicious thing you have ever eaten and how you wish you could duplicate it. Maybe you'll get invited back again for the fish!

      1. You can smoke fish on the stove top. Line a cast iron or aluminium pot with foil, leaving an overhang of extra length. Throw in a handful of rough black tea leaves, a handful of uncooked rice, and a small handful of brown sugar. Place anything that will work as a rack at the bottom of the pot; and place the fish on the rack. Put on the lid tightly and fold the extra foil over the top of the lid as tightly as possible. Turn on the heat to medium-high for a several minutes until you see or smell just a hint of smoke. Turn the heat to low and let it smoke for 30 minutes to an hour depending on size of fish. You may need to experiment once or twice to get it perfect.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Similar to what Sam wrote, check out America's Test Kitchen which smoked ribs in the oven using a rimmed cookie sheet and some black tea leaves. Essentially, you put the leaves on the rimmed sheet, a rack with your food above that and seal it all with foil and pop in the oven. The tea leaves smolder at a low enough temperature to smoke the food in your oven.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Hey Sam, did this tonight for supper, with two small filets of butterfish.

            I only had powdered tea (from tea bags) so the smoking mixture burnt a bit too quickly, but the burnt smell did not pass onto the fish, thankfully. Fifteen minutes, followed by a five minute 'rest' still in the covered pot, but off the heat, cooked the 1cm thick filets perfectly. The outside was lightly smoked, very pleasing. Thanks as always for the how-to tips.

          2. I agree with the others who have already replied that it's not a good idea. The amount of smoke given off when you're hot-smoking anything will set off your alarms and annoy your neighbors. I sympathize with your desire for smoked fish, we look forward to the start of wild salmon season every summer.

            Did you know you can buy hot-smoked wild salmon? I don't know where you live, but even Costco sells it in Alaska and the Northwest. They also ship. And there are other online merchants from the western states who sell good hot-smoked salmon. This would be my solution.

            5 Replies
            1. re: cheryl_h

              In the method I described above, other than a possible faint whift of smoke at the beginning, no smoke is emitted from the tightly sealed pot.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I have wok-smoked chicken and duck this way, both cooked before smoking. I found that it did leak smoke and wasn't very useful beyond about 15 minutes which is all you need for a light smoke flavor. After this time the sugar had carbonized and the smoke was distinctly bitter. It really doesn't produce a hot-smoked fish that will taste anything like the wood smoked product.

                1. re: cheryl_h

                  If your set up leaks smoke (as I would suspect if you use a wok instead of pot with fitted lid) the sugar-tea-rice mix will carbonize/burn. It won't if the lid and foil form a tight seal and the heat is low enough. I do uncooked fish fillets. They are delicious. Obviously I would prefer the genuine wood smoked product. We can buy some smoked fish here for about a gazillion dollars an ounce; but I prefer the stove-top style.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I just checked. Costco has alder-smoked salmon for $13 plus s/h for 24 oz. I have no idea what this particular product tastes like, but I have bought hot-smoked salmon from Costco in Anchorage and it was wonderful. That's why I asked where the OP was located. This is a reasonably priced and easy way to get wood-smoked salmon.

                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      Here in Cali, Colombia, supply is limited and price is high. Shipping from the US is pricey.

            2. You may want to search food network, for the show "good eats", Alton brown,has built a cold smoker for fish out of a cardboard box,and hot plate, he also built a hot smoker out of a terracotta flower pot,a bbq grate,and hot plate, both dirt cheap alternatives to a new smoker,or a trip to the hospital,good luck!.

              1. Thank you, I have heeded the warnings and will definitely not be smoking fish according to my original plan.

                I am not sure if I am up for building a smoker out of a flower pot al a Alton Brown. So I am planning to test both Sam's s and ESNY's recipes. But I was wondering,what purpose does the rice serve in Sam's method?

                1 Reply
                1. re: wlark

                  The rice (uncooked, remember), sugar, and tea all and together provide a blend that flavors the "smoke" or smoulder (as ESNY put it) in the pot.

                2. I've seen a contraption (smoker) that utilizes wood chips that was made for use in the oven. You can possibly google that device. But, the one thing that is most important is brining your salmon prior to smoking. I don't believe I've ever eaten salmon that was "hot" smoked without being brined first. Here's a site that might be useful. Good luck!

                  http://www.eaglequest.com/~bbq/faq2/1...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dhedges53

                    Yeah, here it is, a stove-top smoker that uses wood chips. They also sell smoker bags with wood impregnated into the inner lining of the bag.

                    http://www.chefsresource.com/cmismo.html

                  2. I realize this is late, but I have just found this website.

                    There is another answer to your delima--there is a product named "Liquid Smoke" that is available in most grocery stores (in the south anyway) near worchestireshire (sp??) sauce, etc. You can see them at http://www.colgin.com/public/
                    (No, I don't work for them

                    )

                    CAUTION: Use sparingly until you have found how much you like --these are strong.

                    To me they are not as good as real "wood smoking", but in your case may be the safest option. They distil (liquify) real smoke --see the website for info. I just found out when I googled the website that they now have 4 different smoke flavors--Hickory (original), Mesquite, Pecan, & Apple.

                    Hope this helps.