View Full Version : Smoking Bluefish

09-20-2007, 03:56 PM
I've always wanted to make smoked bluefish like the good stuff you can find at certain fish markets. I have one of those barrel-shaped smokers where you put charcoal and smoking chips in the bottom and the fillets on racks in the top of the barrel above a water pan. I.e., a hot smoker. It's terrific for chicken and pork but not great for fish IMO. The good stuff is cold smoked, which requires putting the fish in contact with the smoke only, not the heat source. Cold smoking also takes a lot longer than hot smoking - some recipes I've read call for several days of constant smoking, even a week for certain fish. You can buy electric cold smokers with separate chambers for heat and smoke but they're expensive. And you can find plans on-line to build one using a hot plate, electric fan and old refrigerator parts, but I'd rather spend my free time on the water and not in the garage when I can help it. So after catching a few bluefish the other day I did the following.

First I brined the fish for 24 hours. I use a simple solution of 1/2 cup salt for every cup of water. After brining, I rinsed the fish, dried them and put them on the smoker racks and placed them in the refrigerator uncovered overnight. By the next morning they had dried to the point of developing a "pellicle" skin. I then lit a very small (real) charcoal fire in the bottom of my smoker using only 4 or 5 coals. When these turned white I put a few one-inch chunks of water-soaked apple wood on top of them, put the fish racks in the barrel and closed the top. This was good for about a hour or so of smoke. I had to keep repeating this throughout the day and a couple times had to replace the charcoal. All told, I smoked the fish this way for about ten hours. By only using a few coals it never got above 100 degrees or so inside the smoker, so the fish didn't really cook, it just dried and smoked. However, by the end of the day it still didn't have that toothy, dense texture you get from genuine cold-smoking, so to finish it off I put it in a regular oven at 200 degrees for about an hour.

The final result was delicious smoked bluefish as close as I've ever gotten to the professionally smoked kind. (And a hell of a lot fresher than you tend to find these days in some markets.) I did six fillets this way and they were gone by breakfast the next day. Give it a try, definitely worth the effort.

09-20-2007, 09:07 PM
Thanks. In the south the folks love bluefish, in the north not so much. I will try your technique. Do you think I could catch any bluefish around here?--127-3-