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How to Smoke a King Mackerel

Updated on October 28, 2010

Because of its classification as a fatty fish, a king mackerel is one of the best fishes to smoke. This is because the abundant natural oil in the meat prevents its drying out in the smoking process. Also, smoking is one of the best choices to prolong the fish’ shelf life as this greatly reduces the moisture content, thereby slowing bacterial growth.


  1. The best way to prepare your kingfish is to fillet it immediately after catching it. This way, the flavor from both the ingredients and smoke can be evenly distributed throughout the meat. In filleting a kingfish, you should be wary of the fish’s very sharp teeth. Also, make sure that you clean the fish thoroughly, carefully removing blood and fish guts.
  2. Next is to prepare the brine. For a pound of kingfish, you will need these following brine ingredients:

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons salt

diced one-half onion

diced 1 garlic clove

1 cup water

A pinch of cloves, allspice, bay leaves and mustard seed

Mix all these ingredients in a glass mixing bowl. Make sure that all of these are mixed thoroughly. Then, place the fish into the bowl and cover. Place the container into the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, making sure that the fish meat thoroughly absorbs the brine. The brine is important because aside from the smoke, it gives that added flavor to your kingfish.

  1. After the required time to soak your fish elapses, the next step is to dry the fish out. You can do this by lying the fish flat on a drying rack and then put it into the refrigerator for about three hours. You will then observe that the surface of the fish meat starts to glaze over.
  2. You are now ready to smoke your kingfish. The optimal choice to do this is to smoke it in a slightly lower temperature than those in smoking meat. The best woods to use for this kind of smoking are cherry, hickory, oak or apple, as these kinds adds that smoky sweet flavor to your fish. Like almost all smoking, it is best to smoke your kingfish in a good deal of smoke.
  3. You will need to have a pretty accurate thermometer because you will have to monitor the meat’s temperature. Make sure that its temperature is at a constant 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This activity is crucial, because a temperature lower than this is the best temperature for bacteria to multiply and a higher temperature may mean quicker cooking for your kingfish, which is not the best way to do it.
  4. With the fish’s meat temperature at constant at 180 degrees Fahrenheit, smoke your kingfish for four to five hours.

Additional Tips

  1. Obviously, never use treated or coated wood for your smoking as it will give off toxic fumes when heated.
  2. It is a fact that like sharks, swordfishes and other certain large fishes, kingfish contains amounts of mercury, so it is probably not best eaten by children and pregnant women.


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