Smoked Smelt...A Small Fish With Big Flavor.
Its late winter, the smelt are starting to show up in the local rivers, so this would be a great time to break out the smoker.
These little guys are every bit as tasty as any of their big brothers that come from the same water.
Also known as candle fish, legend has it that once they were dried the early settlers would light one end and it would burn like a candle due to the high oil content in the fish.
High oil content is what makes smelt a great choice for the smoker. Lots of oil translates into a very moist and flavorful end product.
The preparation time is minimal. Removal of the heads and guts is not necessary prior to smoking, although some people do. If you choose to clean the fish, simply open the body cavity using a knife or scissors then run your finger thru to remove the guts. Rinse with cold water and your ready for the brine.
A basic brine of 1 cup non iodized salt, 1 cup white or brown sugar dissolved in 1 gallon of cold water will get the job done. The sky’s the limit on spices and herbs you can use to enhance the flavor of your brine.
The crucial thing is the amount of time the fish spends soaking. The fish may become too salty if left in the brine for extended periods of time. Letting them soak for about 2 hours will give them a mild salty taste.
After the brining is done place the fish on racks to air dry. When they’re slightly tacky its time to put them in the smoker.
I like to smoke smelt low and slow, 140 degrees for 2 hours, then raise the temperature to 180 degrees for 1 hour. Then I try one to see if its to my liking. If they’re not ready, 1 more hour at 180 degrees and then eat another one. They’re usually done at this point.
You can get them done in a hurry if you crank the temperature up to 200 to 225 degrees, about half the time as previously mentioned, but they tend to be too dry and chewy for my taste.
If you’ve never tried smoking these little fish your missing out on some of the best smoked food out there.
Put those fish in your smoker and lets get smoky!
is a great way to enjoy fish with a moist and smoky flavor.
… sweet, delicate and delicious.
… Light and tasty.
Return from smelt to smoking fish
Return from smelt to smoking meat