Those who know me, know that there are two things I enjoy that relax me and often yield outstanding results fishing and cooking (by cooking I mean grilling, baking, smoking, roasting, etc).  Because of this a lot of people ask me what is the best way to eat fish?  Without a doubt the best way regardless of how it is prepared to eat fish is fresh, I enjoy smoked fish, baked fish, fried fish and grilled fish, but compound any of those methods with a fresh catch and it is exponentially better.  As a result of last nights catch today’s smoked fish lunch went from the lake to the plate in less than 24 hours, now that is some pretty fresh fish.

Brined the fish this morning for a couple of hours in my famous fish brine, let it sit out and dry/skin for about an hour and into the smoker at 190°F with some alder and apple wood for about 2 hours.  Had a little trouble getting the smoke going early on the Brinkmann Electric (which if you remember I built a PID controller for it last year), but was trying something new.  The results in spite of the difficulties where phenomenal, there might not be a better fish to smoke.

The famous fish brine recipe is as follows:

2 qts water
1 c kosher salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tbsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper

I stir the salt in the water until dissolved and then test to see if an uncooked egg floats.  If it does not remove the egg, add more salt, stir and test again until the egg floats; this is important to get an 80 brine.  Once the salinity is all set add the rest of the ingredients, mix in thoroughly and refrigerate until needed, I have left it in the fridge for weeks and used it with excellent results.

I follow the brining directions located here.

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the 2010 pier fishing season that is.  Tonight marked my first journey out to the Grand Haven pier, where, more than likely I will waste spend countless hours this year trying to catch some illusive fish or another, mostly just enjoying the fresh air and sounds of the lake.  Typical excursions to the pier are more about clearing the mind than actually catching fish, tonight was an exception to that rule.  With the ice off the lake and the pier I tried my hand at steelhead and brown trout and came out with a brown trout, first of my life in fact, an exception to the rule.  Using some skein I had harvested from a female salmon catch last year, on a #8 plain shank hook with a couple of split shots on some 6# line turned out to be money and yielded a nice fish.

Brown Trout

Tomorrow this tough, I mean really tough, skinned almost too pretty to clean fish will meet some alder wood smoke at about 190°F for a couple hours and hopefully serve as a delicious reminder to the excitement of landing him tonight.  Check back tomorrow for an update on the smoked fish.

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