A week and a half ago we had a successful fishing adventure, we went up to Half Moon Lake here in Michigan and fished for Rainbow Trout.  As luck would have it we got one, a hair over legal size, yes merely one but it was a successful trip none the less.  Because of other things going on I had to wait to smoke him until today so he took up residence in my freezer until I took him out to thaw.  Today was the day, I brined him this morning for about an hour and a half in my standard fish brine, why change a good thing right?

Previously I had not smoked a whole fish, and that was the plan to smoke the whole gutted fish, but I decided since I had forgotten to remove his gills when I cleaned him and he still looked rather surprised I had to smoke him without his head.  In reality there is nothing edible in there anyways.

After his stint in the brine, I pulled him out, did not rinse him and stuffed him with some lemon wedges and onions and tossed him on an oiled smoker grate.  I then smoked him at 190°F over some apple wood, I usually smoke fish over alder, but had heard that trout was excellent over apple wood and I was not disappointed.  Using my PID controller for my electric smoker it was easy/effortless to maintain temperature and once the smoke was rolling it was time to sit back and let him cook.

After about 2 hours I retrieved him from the smoker and using a technique I had recently learned I grabbed the spine with on hand and the fish with the other and gently removed the spine and all the bones from the fish, it worked great.

Smoked Rainbow Trout on Rice

As if smelling the sweet smell of the apple wood smoke all morning wasn’t good enough, eating it was incredible.  It was done just right, flaky.  It was smoky but not too smoke and the apple wood complimented the lemon well and trout well, it was not fishing but it was fish.  It was in a word awesome, so trout beware I am coming for you.  If I only fish for one thing for the rest of the year it will be trout.

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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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