There are quite a number of fish and meats that lend themselves well to smoking. People might often think of ham, bacon, turkey or salmon, when they think of smoked meat or fish, however there are many others that smoke quite well. One of them is trout, and it isn’t at all difficult to smoke these fish, particularly if they are pan-sized. Better still, it works as well for freshly caught trout as it does for those that have been frozen and thawed out, provided that they were frozen properly.
The size of the fish will generally be 6-12 inches in length, but it should be noted that the smaller the fish, usually the less time it will take to smoke them. The trout need to be cleaned and rinsed, with the heads removed. Many people also prefer to remove the skin from the fish as well. While this is a matter of personal preference, during the smoking stage, a skinned trout will usually end up with a more robust smoke flavoring since the smoke will be able to penetrate from the outside rather than being blocked by the skin. If the skin is left on, though, the fish should also be scaled. Once the fish is fully smoked, the skin should come off easily, however the scales can block smoke from getting to the flesh.
Trout can be smoked in small, medium, large, homemade or smoke house smokers. Each kind of smoker normally has its own smoking traits, so this should be taken into consideration when the fish is actually put into the smoker. It is also helpful in the smoker has racks to lay the fish on. The fish can also be hung, but racks allow a person to turn the fish and to easily check to see when it is done.
For smoked trout, most people probably prefer mild but sweet smoking wood such as alder, cherry, apple or pear. The wood should either be in chips or small branches cut so they fit the smoker. Green wood can work exceptionally well, but if the wood chips are dried, they should be soaked in water for about an hour before putting them in the smoker, to increase the amount of steam and smoke for flavoring.
There can be quite a lot of variation in the brine that is used to soak the fish in prior to smoking, depending upon the desired result and personal taste. One example of a good brine solution for about 10 of these fish is:
1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar (or 1 cup processed sugar and 3 tablespoons of molasses)
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon fine ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)
Mix all of the ingredients together and bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring frequently, so the sugar is dissolved well and the ingredients are blended. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature then immerse the fish. The fish should be completely submerged in the brine so it can soak in. Let the fish remain in the brine, refrigerated, for several hours to overnight to allow the flavor to permeate the meat.
Near the end of the soaking phase, get the smoker going so that it is producing a lot of smoke by the time the fish is ready to be put in the smoker. Place the fish on the racks, far enough apart that they aren’t touching, and smoke for one or two hours. The fish should be turned at least once during smoking and more wood may need to be added. This method of smoking also cooks the trout. When the fish is done, the bones should have pulled away from the flesh and the fish meat should be somewhat flaky without being dried out.
Smoking pan-sized trout can be a fantastic way to prepare them. The fish is tasty and can be eaten as is, or it can be used in meals. The flavor is often more delicate than smoked salmon, and yet it isn’t at all difficult to do if a person has a smoker to work with. People who like smoked fish often think that smoked trout amounts to a special treat.