How to Brine Trout to Smoke

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One of the most popular game fish across most of North America and Europe is the trout. While there are many varieties of trout, they mainly reside in streams and lakes. Cooking and preserving trout can take many forms, but smoking is one that requires more than just throwing it in a skillet or oven. The smoked fish will last many weeks or months, provided you store it properly. Prior to smoking trout, clean the fish and soak it in brine.

Clean the fresh caught trout immediately. Remove the gills, slit the fish from the anus to the gills and strip out the guts including the bloodline that runs along the backbone. The fish can develop food poisoning bacteria if not properly stored after cleaning.

Store the cleaned fish on ice until you are ready to soak it in brine. Cover the fish completely with ice including packing the gut cavity with ice chips. This will keep the meat safely until you are ready to smoke it.

Mix the brine solution. Fill a 5-gallon bucket half-full of spring water and add enough kosher salt to give the water a distinct but not overpowering salty taste. Add seasonings of your choice and stir until dissolved. The seasonings used are purely dependent on personal taste. Options include brown sugar, Worchestershire sauce, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning blend, hot sauce, pepper or wine. Use any combination of these or others that you desire. The only mandatory ingredient is the salt.

Fillet the trout if it is too large to smoke as one piece. You should not exceed a thickness of approximately 1.5 inches. Fillet the trout if it is large enough to exceed this size or if you desire to remove the bones before smoking.

Immerse the fish or fillets in the brine and store at a temperature below 10 degrees Celcius. You can reduce the temperature by adding ice during the brining process.

Soak the fish in the brine for a minimum of one hour and not more than 24 hours. The longer the fish soaks in the brine, the stronger the flavor of the brine in the smoked product. Stir the brine solution occasionally to expose fresh brine to the flesh of the fish throughout the brining process.

Remove the fish from the brine and allow the skin to dry on a paper towel for a few minutes. The brining of the fish cures the fish and chemically cooks it. Transfer the fish to the smoker and proceed with your normal process for smoking the trout.