Ol’ Smokey

As the old joke goes, whitefish are great smoked, but they’re hard to keep lit. That’s right: smoked whitefish—something many fisher folk have heard of but have never actually tried. Any traditional charcoal barbeque will do; the only benefit of an electric smoker is the ability set the temperature, time, and forget about it. I find the traditional method better because it oftentimes results in better table fare.

2-3 larger (12 inches or better) whitefish filleted and boned. (Approx. 3-5 lbs)
1 gallon water
1 1/3 cups canning salt
2/3 cup brown sugar

Mix the salt and sugar with the water until it is all dissolved. (For more flavor, add teriyaki, bourbon, honey, or some Old Bay—get creative.) Totally submerge the fillets and let them soak for at least 12 hours. Prep your smoker using a mixture of charcoal and alder wood—apple, hickory, or mesquite also work. Soak some of the chips in water for about an hour. This cools the coal bed and provides a richer, cooler smoke; don’t forget to drain these chips before you add them to the coals. Spread the glowing red coals evenly out in the smoker. Once you have a good bed of coals, add the soaked chips. Place the fish on the grate in the smoker. Spray your grate with cooking spray to keep the fish from sticking. Smoke the fish for 6 to 8 hours, remembering to check regularly. Smoking time will vary depending on your smoker and the outside temperature, but once the fish is flakey, remove the fillets, let cool, and enjoy. Smoked whitefish can be enjoyed on a cracker cocktail-style, mixed with scrambled eggs for breakfast, or added to a chowder for a hearty dinner.