This episode in Preserving the Pantry discusses smoking kokanee fish.
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Find the complete recipe for How to Smoke Kokanee!
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In this episode you'll learn:
- About kokanee fish
- How to make a brine
- How to smoke the fish
- What temperature your smoked fish need to be when finished
- Ways to use smoked fish
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Hi, and welcome back to Preserving the Pantry. Today, we are talking about fish. Smoking fish to be precise. So I really enjoy fishing. And I'm going to say I'm a pretty good Fisher woman, fisherman Fisher person, whatever you wanna say. However, to be honest, I don't know a whole lot about fishing!
I know how to bait my hook. I know how to put live bait or bait if any kind on my hook. And I know how to remove the fish from the hook, but that's about where my knowledge ends.
My husband does get me set up for fishing. And so really all of my fishing success is due to him. So he will get the line already knows what line to put on what type of pole we need to use. What type of reel we need to use, what type of lures we need to put on what type of flashers we need to put on.
But nevertheless, I still love to go fishing. One of the types of fish that we really enjoy fishing for in the summertime is kokanee fish. Kokanee are a freshwater fish that are actually a type of a salmon, but they're landlocked.
They never migrate like a traditional typical salmon would,. They're also much smaller than traditional salmon, kokanee fish range in size. Usually I'd say eight to 14 inches. If you were asking the guys, they'd probably say 12 to 20 inches, but they're really not that big when we catch them.
We catch up quite a few fish. And right now on our lake, where we go fishing, the limit is 15 per person per day. You can usually catch that in just a couple quick, short hours. We go out there as soon as you find the school of the kokanee and you drop your line in the water, you are pulling fish in left and right.
It is really fun fishing. And you're done almost in no time at all. As long as you're catching the fish, that is.
So, what we do with those kokanee fish is we usually bring them back home and we typically wait until we smoke our fish. We will make sure they're good and clean we'll pack 'em in a Ziploc bag and then put them in the freezer until they're ready.
Sometimes it's because we just don't have the time to smoke them right away. Sometimes it's that we, we don't have enough for a full batch to smoke them right away. So by placing them in the freezer, we can wait until we are ready to smoke those fish. You can do it either way though. You can use the freshly caught fish or the frozen fish.
You're going to just fully thaw them before you use them for smoking. As I've said, we use kokanee fish in this recipe, but you could use other smaller freshwater fish things like trout, or even probably bass would work as well. Or we've done a few times with some of the larger freshwater fish like Mackinaw.
They'll take a little bit more time on the smoker. The recipe that I have is specifically for kokanee fish, you can adapt and adjust if you have other fish.
The first thing we need to do is brine the fish. You want to make sure your fish are fully cleaned. If they've been frozen, make sure they're fully thawed give them a good rinse, and then you're gonna mix up your brine.
The brine that I use is three quarts of water. One cup of sugar, one cup of brown sugar, one cup of canning salt or kosher salt. Now remember that canning salt or kosher salt should have absolutely no additives to it. You want just that pure salt, nothing else in there. A tablespoon of garlic powder and a tablespoon of black pepper.
That's it. Put it all into a really large container and stir until the sugar and salt is fully dissolved. Sometimes that takes a little bit of time. Sometimes I'll give it a good stir. Come back, stir it again and keep going until it's completely dissolved in there.
Place your fish into the brine, making certain that they're fully submerged, cover them and refrigerate them for at least 12 hours, but no more than 24 hours. Anything longer than 24 hours starts to break down the quality of your fish.
You really want to keep an eye on that and don't go above the 24 hours. Remove your fish from the brine and give them a rinse in cool, clear water. That helps remove any of the excess salts and just the, you want the brine to get into the fish, but you don't want it coating the fish too much either.
Let your fish dry off a little bit. Just let them air dry, and then you're going to place them on your racks of your smokers. So when we smoke fish, we use two different types of smokers, depending on the number of fish that we're doing. Rod has a homemade smoker that he's made that we can hold about a hundred fish that runs off a propane.
And then we also have an electric smoker that holds about 30 fish. Spray your racks lightly with a non-stick spray and this will help prevent your fish from sticking to those racks. Place the racks in the smoker, and turn your smoker on. You want the initial heat of your smoker to be 160 degrees, and you're going to heat your fish for the first hour at 160 degrees with no smoke.
After the first hour, you're going to add a pan of wood chips at the bottom of your smoker. We typically use apple or Alder wood chips. You can use whatever you'd like, but typically for fish, you're gonna want something that's not a super strong tasting wood. You'll continue smoking at 160 degrees until all the smoke dissipates.
Then remove that wood pan of chips, discard the ashes that are left in there, refill the pan and smoke. we should do two to three pans of smoke depending on the fish. You can also decide depending on your taste. If you like a heavier smoke, make sure you do three. If you want it lighter, you're going to stop at two.
The internal temperature of the fish needs to reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit for it to be finished. The. There are times if we are smoking in the middle of winter and it's a cold windy day, we might have trouble getting our fish to that temperature and maintaining a real nice even temperature in our smoker.
That is when we will finish off our fish in the oven. After the two pans of smoke, we'll remove them, place them on a baking sheet and put them in a 200 degree oven until the fish reach that 145 degrees. When your fish are finished, you'll remove them from the trays and let them coo. Then you'll decide what you want to do with them.
We often eat our smoked fish on a charcuterie type board with crackers and cheese and other sliced meats. We will also turn it into a dip. We'll add it to a cream cheese dip and serve with crackers, but we will freeze a lot of our smoked fish, or we also can our smoked fish and I have a full recipe on that.
And I'm sure there'll be an upcoming podcast on that as well. So make sure you stay tuned for that episode.
Decide how you're going to use your fish. And that will be determined how you're going to store them.
That's it for today, a link for the complete recipe for smoking fish can be found in the show notes or at, beyond the chicken coop.
I'll see you in the pantry.
Thanks for listening and be sure to tune in again next week for more episodes of Preserving the Pantry.
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