Smoked Rainbow Trout

 

Got fish? Here are four smoked trout recipes we have created to share with our friends and families. Gently smoked with alder, apple and Pacific Blend.

We are fortunate to live in a place where we can catch some amazing rainbow trout, weighing in at between 5 - 10 lbs each. Unbelievable fun for us to go fly fishing with friends in the late winter and early spring, mostly finding success with a Woolie Bugger trout fly. But you have to be warmly dressed and ready for rain. No "fair weather fishing" here! Once the lake warms up in the summer, the fish are too soft to use. 

The rainbow trout we have been catching are more like salmon than trout for size, but has the delicate flavour of rainbow that you just don't want to lose through too much seasoning, or improper handling. The size of the fish, and the need to process them quickly presents an opportunity to be very creative so as to not waste a morsel of food. We gut the fish as soon as they are caught and keep them in a cooler with ice, even on the lake.

As soon as we get home, I sharpen my knife and fillet the fish for eating, smoking and sharing. (I make broth from the heads, bones and fins, and when I strain the broth, I grind the solids together with oats, apples, eggs and flour to make dog cookies. Recipe to follow)

In order to have evenly cooked fish, it should be consistent thickness and size. The fillets of these trout have a variety of thicknesses, with the tail and rib areas being half the thickness of the top of the fish. Separate these, and you will have an easier time. 

I sharpen my knife again (important) and then cut the tail & rib areas into 3 - 4" square slabs, and after removing the pin bones along the thickest part of the flesh, cut the rest into 1" cubes for smoked nuggets. I prefer the nuggets skinned, but leave the skin on the slabs and fillets.

Each recipe uses a different, but similar method for brining the fish. The first two are dry brine and the last two are a liquid brine. Once you have your fillets or nuggets cut, rinsed and patted dry, choose the recipes that suits your tastes.

 

#1 Salt & Pepper Smoked Trout

2-3 lbs trout or salmon fillets, rinsed and patted dry.
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 Tbsp pepper

Mix the sugars, salt & pepper to make the dry brine. In a bowl or container, layer the fish fillets, coating with the rub as you fill it up. Cover and refrigerate for 8 - 10 hours.

Drain. Rinse very well. Pat dry and place on racks or cookie sheets far enough apart that they are not touching. Allow them to dry in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight to develop a pellicle.* When the weather is cold, like it was when I made the last batch,  I put the dehydrator in the window, turned it on fan mode and air-dried the fillets for a couple hours to get the same effect.

*"Pellicle (cooking), a skin or coating of proteins on the surface of meat, fish or poultry, which allow smoke to better adhere the surface of the meat during the smoking process." (Wikipedia)

Preheat your smoker to 180F. Arrange the pieces skin side down on greased smoker racks and add a mild smoke like alder, apple or your own preferred flavour. Checking every half hour or so, smoke for about 3 - 4 hours or until the internal temp is about 140F. 

 

#2 Smoked Trout Nuggets

3-4 pounds thick portion of trout cut into 1" cubes
3-4 cups brown sugar
2 cups coarse kosher salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Rinse and pat dry your trout nuggets. Mix sugar, salt and spices to make your dry brine. 

In a bowl or container, layer the fish fillets, coating with the rub as you fill it up. Cover and refrigerate for 8 - 10 hours.

Drain. Rinse very well. Pat dry and place on racks or cookie sheets far enough apart that they are not touching. Allow them to dry in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight to develop a pellicle.*

Preheat your smoker to 120F. Arrange the pieces skin side down on greased smoker racks and add a mild smoke like alder, apple or your own preferred flavour. 

Every hour raise the temperature in the smoker by 20 degrees until it's 180 F. 

Checking every half hour or so, smoke for about 4 hours. 

 

#3 Maple Orange Trout

3 pounds trout fillets, cut into portions, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups cold water
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/4 cup coarse kosher salt
zest of one fresh orange (best not to use dried peel)

Glaze:

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix the water, syrup, sugar, salt and peel in a big bowl. Mix to dissolve the sugar & salt. Submerge the trout fillets in the brine, mix and refrigerate 8-10 hours depending upon how thick they are. 

Drain. Rinse very well. Pat dry and place on racks or cookie sheets far enough apart that they are not touching. Allow them to dry in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight to develop a pellicle. 

Preheat your smoker to 160F. Arrange the pieces skin side down on greased smoker racks and add a mild smoke like alder, apple or your own preferred flavour. After the first 15 minutes, brush with the glaze every half hour. Smoke for about 3 hours or until the internal temp is about 145F. 

 

#4 Maple Candy

2-3 lbs trout nuggets cut in 1" cubes and rinsed
1 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup dark maple syrup 
2 cups water

Glaze

1/2 cup dark maple syrup

Mix the liquid brine in a large bowl or covered container, and add the trout nuggets, stirring to submerge. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours. 

Drain. Rinse very well. Pat dry and place on racks or cookie sheets far enough apart that they are not touching. Allow them to dry in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight to develop a pellicle.

Preheat your smoker to 220F. Arrange the pieces skin side down on greased smoker racks and add a mild smoke like alder, apple or your own preferred flavour. After the first 15 minutes, brush with the maple syrup glaze every half hour. Smoke for about 3 hours or until the internal temp is about 140F.

 

PLEASE NOTE: The rainbow trout we are catching are not native, but escapees from the local fresh water fish farm. Whenever we catch a native cut-throat trout, we release them.






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