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Smoking fish in homemade rig

iheartcooking Dec 28, 2011 06:07 PM

My husband doesn't want me smoking any fish in our homemade clay pot smoker because he says everything we cool in it will taste fishy afterwards. Is this true?

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  1. f
    foreverhungry Dec 29, 2011 09:39 AM

    No. I've smoked salmon countless times in a homemade smoking rig, and it has never smelled fishy afterwards. It only smells smoky.

    Out of curiosity, can you give details about your homemade smoking rig?

    5 Replies
    1. re: foreverhungry
      iheartcooking Dec 29, 2011 09:50 AM

      It's the Alton Brown Design, two terra cotta pots, heating element, pans of wood chunks in the bottom, drip pan just above that, grill grate on top. Thermometer inserted in the top pot, though not much temperature control is possible. So far we have made smoked turkey for every family event the past few years, plus brisket and pork butt and ribs have all been successes..

      1. re: iheartcooking
        f
        foreverhungry Dec 29, 2011 09:58 AM

        OK, I see. Given the nature of the rig, I'm not sure what the issue is even if the terra cotta pots do smell fishy - they're a couple bucks, right? But in any case, the pots will smell like smoke, not fish, so I wouldn't worry about that.

        I'm not sure exactly what you're after with smoking fish, but the setup you describe sounds like you'll have a temperature greater than about 100F, which means you'll be hot smoking the fish. Hot smoked fish has a very different consistency than cold smoked fish. If you're after something more like the smoked salmon you get a a good deli, I don't think your rig will work. If you're just after a piece of cooked fish that has a smoky taste, however, your rig will work fine.

        If you're after the former - cold smoked fish - I can tell you how I fashioned a home-rig smoker that I use indoors, and get great smoked salmon results.

        1. re: foreverhungry
          iheartcooking Dec 29, 2011 10:28 AM

          Well, I intended to get your typical cooked smoked fish... I have had smoked salmon and trout and both were the consistency of cooked fish, not lox, and I loved them! My aunts love putting tinned smoked fish into dips and they taste just ok.

          However, I would LOVE your instructions for rigging up a cold smoker, so if I ever get the courage to cure salmon I can try it out... Also would love to do cheese and bacon at some point.

          1. re: iheartcooking
            f
            foreverhungry Dec 29, 2011 10:57 AM

            I use the Ruhlman and Polcyn recipe from "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing" (a fantastic book, I highly recommend it - everything I've made from there - pastrami, smoked salmon, pates, terrines, and sausages - have been fantastic) for curing salmon. Basically, it's a combination of salt and sugar, with some added spices, and it surrounds the salmon filet for a couple days.

            To smoke the cured salmon, I use a styrofoam box, in which I put a bed of ice cubes (about 2-3 inches thick), and I use a metal can in the middle (like a can of beans) to support a small wire rack (like a rack from the toaster oven, or a cookie drying rack). The salmon goes on the rack, so it's sitting about 1 or 2 inches above the ice. I punched 2 small holes (about 1/2 inch diameter) into the sides of the styrofoam box (one in the front, one in back), and use the Smoking Gun from PolyScience (http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/the-...) to blast smoke through the small hose, which is fed into the hole in the front of the styrofoam cooler. I blast smoke for about 15 seconds, or until smoke starts coming out the back hole. When a steady stream of smoke is coming out the back hole, I plug both holes up. I usually blast smoke once every 30 minutes, for about 3-4 hours, so a total of 6-8 blasts, each about 15 seconds. Finally, I slide a digital thermometer through the styrofoam, so the probe sits an inch or so away from the salmon, at the same height above the ice. Every time I've smoked salmon this way, the temperature has varied from 50 to 52 degrees - well below the threshold for cold smoking.

            The end result, after slicing (which is actually the toughest part), is smoked salmon that is at least on par, if not better, than the stuff you find in delis, but at a fraction of the price. After the initial investment of the Smoking Gun, smoked salmon is then basically the cost of the salmon (about $10-$12 a pound on average), plus maybe an extra buck for the salt, sugar, and whatever spices you use. In addition to the cost factor, you can vary the spices used to cure the salmon, which is great.

            I've used the same set-up to smoke other types of fish (trout and scallops), and I've used the Smoking Gun to smoked chicken breasts that were cooked the convential way (oven roasted), but that I then popped into a ziplock bag and blasted with a few hits of smoke - the result was a very light smoke flavor, which is nice to complement traditional spices without overpowering them.

            Lastly, the nice thing about this rig is that I use it indoors - I set it up on the kitchen counter. This gives me the ability to cold smoke all year long, and no matter the weather outside. There's no smoke smell in the house at all (if there is, a minute of the kitchen fan takes care of it), and I don't have to worry about a fire hazard with using a heating element that's left on. I think this would work very well for cheese, but probably not for bacon.

            1. re: foreverhungry
              j
              Joebob Jan 18, 2012 06:29 PM

              WOW forever, what a great, detailed reply. I may try it here in Paradise (Hawaii).

    2. r
      rasputina Dec 29, 2011 01:28 PM

      No it's fine. We smoke fish in our Big Green Egg all the time and it never has a fish linger at all.

      1. t
        travelerjjm Dec 29, 2011 01:41 PM

        I have two stainless smokers (one for inside, one for outside that is a Bradley). None ever smell like fish. If you are worried, use a disposable drip pan.

        1. p
          Puffin3 Jan 18, 2012 05:26 PM

          Go to the dump and get an old fridge. While you're at the dump before you leave take a large hammer and smash out the interior plastic and fiber glass insulation and leave the fridge racks etc. behind! While you are there find four or five oven racks that come close to fitting the inside of the fridge. Lug everything home. Put the fridge on a couple of concrete blocks. Using a jig saw cut a hole in the bottom of the fridge to fit a an 8 inch alum heating duct. run the heating duct away from the fridge a few feet and invent a system using an old enclosed electric hot plate with a heavy pot/s on it will create smoke from local hard wood/fruit trees or such that will move the smoke up the duct tube into the bottom of the fridge . You'll of course have installed the oven racks (the fridge ones will poison you/your smoked meat/fish. Then put your freshly brined salmon etc. on the racks and start the 'cold smoking ' process. It usually takes me about 24 hr of cold smoking to properly smoke salmon although smoking fresh caught rock (my favorite) takes about half that time. When you see a really good white protein develop you know you are there. Want to see what really delicious smoked fish looks like? Goggle smoked white fish photos. We bought a few pounds of smoked white fish and some smoked pickerel when we drove through N. Ontario last year. The best of the best!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Puffin3
            j
            Joebob Jan 18, 2012 06:34 PM

            You make it sound complicated and dangerous, and you know what you're talking about.

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