Smoking Thick Fillets

Discussion in 'Recipes, Storage and Preparation of Seafood' started by Franko Manini, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. Franko Manini

    Franko Manini Well-Known Member


    This year I was fortunate to get a nice big chinook about 28 lbs, which I filleted and froze for smoking. This weekend I will get to the smoking. My question is this... I have never smoked such thick fish. I always cut the fillets into strips that are 0.75" to 1.0" wide before I brine and generally I get a great result with a tried and true recipe and smoking process.

    Generally, I do a 12-16 hour brine, then dry to form a pellicle, then cold smoke for 2 hours at 120F, followed by 2-3 hours in the smoker (no smoke) at 150F (or sometimes as high as 160F) to actually cook the meat and drive off a lot of the water.

    I am a touch concerned that this year, a lot of my strips will be pretty darn thick, maybe as much as 2". Do I need to make any changes to my recipe or smoking process?

    Thanks everyone!
  2. Fishtank

    Fishtank Active Member

    Maybe leave them in the brine a little longer if they are thicker?
    bigdogeh and fishin solo like this.
  3. Rain City

    Rain City Well-Known Member

    I just cut bigger fillets into 1/3 and 2/3 slabs, tail end on the 1/3 side. Then I cut my 3/4 strips out of the 2/3 (thicker) side. After that I just turn those strips 90 degrees and rip them again, sometimes even into thirds. The tail side I just cut as usual. And last I always organize my racks by thickness. If the "thick" rack isn't quite there I leave it in longer. Hope that makes sense, good luck!
  4. bigdogeh

    bigdogeh Well-Known Member

    What fishtank said if you're going to try to keep the pieces large. I've left fish in the brine (wet or dry brine) for 3 and 4 days with good results. (in the fridge of course) You want the brine to penetrate all the way through if possible.
    Rain City's method is good too if you want smaller pieces. (strips, etc)
    Rain City likes this.
  5. Franko Manini

    Franko Manini Well-Known Member

    Sounds like there is nothing to worry about if I do a little planning and prep...

    Thanks guys!
    Rain City likes this.
  6. wolf

    wolf Well-Known Member

    Yes leave in brine longer min 48 hours is what I do.
    Also put at the top rack of smoker as heat rises and it will cook a bit faster up on top shelf.
    the temp from bottom to top sometimes varies 30 degrees depending on humidity and coldness outside.
    you may have to leave in for alot longer time as well mine usually takes about 8 hours with thicker chunks .

    Good luck and post some pics everyone loves food porn.....
    Reeltime, bigdogeh and Derby like this.
  7. Reeltime

    Reeltime Well-Known Member

    Found cutting into 1 1/4" x 3 1/2"-4" strips shortened the brine time and smoke time ,also with that size you get more surface smoked meat with every bite
    as apposed to doing whole fillets and just the top is got that extra smoky brown/red meat , i still do both ways changing it up, these pieces were pretty thick to begin with and brined this size
    for 24hrs with a bit of extra salt in the brine.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
    noluck, nicnat and bigdogeh like this.
  8. N2013

    N2013 Active Member

    I’ve always put the larger pieces near the bottom, closer to the element (Big Chief). Tail pieces usually end up top. Hmm
    Rain City likes this.
  9. Reeltime

    Reeltime Well-Known Member

    I have the Big Chief also and found it runs hotter at the top then the bottom , always pulling racks and doing rotation to make them all cook at the same time.
  10. wolf

    wolf Well-Known Member

    Well next time drill a small hole and stick your hand held thermometer in there at shelf level and just check temps bet you will find a difference...
  11. The Jackel

    The Jackel Well-Known Member

    What temp are you guys smoking your fish at to get that nice colour??
  12. Rain City

    Rain City Well-Known Member

    I run from 90-160... If you're asking me lol.
  13. Reeltime

    Reeltime Well-Known Member

    I have the Big chief smoker and it runs at a constant 165 , summer months ill do the plug in and un plug intervals
    to keep the cooking slower and not so hot to dry it out. @The Jackel
    Rain City likes this.
  14. The Jackel

    The Jackel Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys

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