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Minnesota Cooking: Fish - Learning How to Brine and Smoke Your Fresh Catch

Updated on December 3, 2016

We Used a 5 Gallon Bucket With Lid


You'll Need A Brining Mix

We have two separate size batch mixtures. You need to soak the raw fish in the brine mix for about 6 hours before you smoke it. This adds salt to the fish and increases the 'ham flavor'. Dry off your fish and coat with brown sugar, onions and pepper before you smoke. The actual smoking takes approximately 4 to 6 hours.

For a full batch, we use the following proportions:

1 cup salt

1 cup brown sugar

4 quart of water


For Half Batch

1/2 cup salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 quart water

The Kids Used This Smoker


The Smoke Hollow Was an Electric Smoker

We bought the electric smoker from Gander Mountain. It was handy to just brine some fish, or a goose, or a duck or turkey and just put it in there. You'd have it in there until it was one, about 6 hours, depending on what you were smoking.

You brine the fish and then, set the fish in the smoker, put wood chips in the tray. You have to put some dry brown sugar on the fish, with a slice of onion and, some black pepper that has been freshly ground.

Basically, with fish, you smoke it until the fish 'flakes' when you poke it with a fork.

Nothing more delicious than finding out that the fish is done and taking bites of the warm, freshly smoked fish. Many, many fish never made it more than a couple feet from the smoker before they were consumed. Tasted great with a beer!

When My Oven Stopped Working

When my oven stopped working correctly, it was then that it was fitted with heavy shelves and the boys would smoke large batches of fish, and large game birds.

There was always a smoke odor coming from the shed. And, always some sort of new smoked food to sample. The boys were pretty creative.

A Method

How About You

Have you tried smoked fish?

See results

Smoked Fish

We usually filleted the fish, and removed the bones, but kept the skin on. I think when you buy it, the scales are still on it. We don't eat the scales or the skin, just the fish meat.

The eyeballs are edible and the fish cheeks are also tasty.

Ham Flavor

When you taste smoked fish, the flavor is like ham. Smoked fish has a salty, ham-like flavor with a fish overtone. The texture of smoked fish is generally flaky and softened. The fish is filleted, but the skin is left on the outside so that the meat does not break into pieces.

Then, when you eat it, you simply peel the meat off the skin. Sometimes, the bones are left in the meat. When you have fish bones, you simply have to pick them out. They are long and very thin. Do not eat the bones.


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