How to Smoke Fish

 In Recipes

Smoking is one of the oldest methods of preserving fish. Fish smoking was initially used as a preservative to prevent fish from going bad. Early forms of fish smoking required heavy cures and smoking because since there was no refrigeration, smoking was the only option to keep fish fresh. The fish had to be able to last in a room temperature environment or cellar for storage. 

However, now the smokey and unique flavor is a desired taste among fish lovers. The curation methods today are much lighter, so refrigeration is most likely necessary until use. You can also freeze your smoked fish to extend its shelf life even more. Salmon, tuna, trout, sturgeon, and catfish are all popular fish to smoke.

How to Make Smoked Fish

Cure smoked fish in a combination of salt, sugar, and nitrites. A cook will need access to a smoker and some tasty fresh fish. Specific brine recipes may vary and often have a personalized touch, but smoking fish does follow some concrete principles. 

Start with a basic brine mixture, and build from there. Some common additional ingredients range from garlic, lemon juice, rum, soy sauce, onion powder, and or garlic salt.


Smoked Fish Recipe

Basic Brine:

  • ½ cup of non-iodized salt
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1 quart of water


Prep the Fish

The fish needs to be pan-dressed, deboned, gutted, with the head removed. Leave the skin on one side. If you are using filleted or deboned fish, you can skip this step. 

You are going to want to put all the ingredients for the brine in a bowl. Whisk the mixture together until the salt and sugar dissolve. Then place the fish in the brine bowl and thoroughly saturate the fish pieces in the mix. Then cover and move the bowl with fish into the refrigerator. 

Let the mixture sit and marinate. For fish pieces about an inch or thicker, soak them in the brine for at least eight hours. If you are using thinner fish pieces, six to eight hours is satisfactory. 

After the allotted soaking time, it is time to finish prepping your fish to be smoked. Remove the fish from the brine mixture and rinse the pieces under cold water. Pat them dry and lay out the fish on a wax paper sheet to air dry for at least an hour. 


How to Smoke Fish

Heat the smoker to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the air-dried fish in your smoker and smoke the fish for two hours. Time could vary depending on the smoking device you use. You’ll want to be sure to use wood chips that suit your desired flavoring. If you are not sure what flavor is best, try out some different woods for taste. 

Popular smoking woods are hickory, apple, and cherry. The more wood chips you add, the more smokey the flavor will be. Frequently, chefs will add more chips about halfway through the smoking process to get a deeper woody taste.

What Smoker is Best for You?

There are a variety of smokers today’s chefs can choose from to use. Whichever product you chose, there is one that should meet your needs from budget to sophisticated. An inexpensive but favorable option is vertical charcoal smokers. These smokers often utilize a centralized water pan for a moist final product. 

If you want to bring your smoker along with you to a camp, or even have one for your backyard, a propane-powered option could be the one for you! Adjustable gas controls accommodate custom cooking preferences, while a separate smoking chamber allows you to add wood and water without changing the smoking chamber’s constant cooking temperature. 

Electric smokers are another great option. An easy plug-in with precise controls allows you to have refined smoked fish every time. If smoking fish is one of your favorite methods or if you plan to smoke for an audience, it may be time to make a lifetime investment. A forever smoker made of steel is the most impressive market option.

Smoked Fish Dip

Smoked fish is delicious and often enjoyed alone. However, you can use smoked fish for another recipe as well. You could even use leftovers to create a whole new dish. An array of recipes for a smoked fish dip is out there, but a tried and true option is listed here for you below.


Smoked Fish Dip Recipe

  • 1 ½ cups of crumbled smoked fish
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 8 oz of softened cream cheese
  • ¼ of minced onions
  • 1 chopped up celery stalk
  • 1 tbsp. of minced parsley
  • 3 tbsp. of pickle relish
  • ½ tsp. of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 


First, add the smoked fish into a bowl with the milk. Let that soak in the fridge covered for up to an hour. Combine the remaining ingredients and cover again. Let the flavors marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator, then serve and enjoy! 

The recipe can be enjoyed alone or maybe with cracked or crispy lettuce cups. 

Stiltsville Fish Bar

If you are not feeling up to the task of smoking fish at home, or maybe you want a day off in the kitchen, enjoy fresh seafood and smoked fish in the comfort of a restaurant where you do not have to do any work. Your sole job will be to sit back, relax, and enjoy. 

If you’re wondering ‘where can I find a smoked fish dip near me?’ – look no further! To experience the highest quality of smoked fish, book a spot at the best Miami Beach restaurant. Here at Stiltsville Fish Bar, we serve delectable smoked fish dips. The shareable dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The plate is prepared with local fish and comes with pickles, butter toasted saltines & old bay potato chips. 

The atmosphere is easy-going and relaxed, set in the heart of Sunset Harbour. Enjoy local, fresh fish and make sure to visit us during our Happy Hour weekdays from 3-7 p.m. Keep an eye out for more promotions as well!

We are your friendly neighborhood fresh seafood restaurant.


Let Us Know What You Think!

Do you think you will try out smoking your fish? Will you book a table at Stiltsville Fish Bar instead? If you try our tips, spark a conversation on our blog. Let us know what did and didn’t work for you. What did you add to the basic brine recipe? What did you order from Stiltsville Fish Bar? We want to hear from you!

Visit the comment section below to hear from other readers and input your stance. If you know of any friends or family who love fish and Miami Beach, share this article with them via social media or encourage them to try out our dishes! Start the conversation and inspire your friends to channel their inner chef.

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