Cold-Smoked Mackerel

All the fish in the tuna family have a higher-than-average oil content, and so are perfect for smoking. This will work for many kinds of fish: salmon, mackerel, tuna, pompano, freshwater trout (including fish like steelhead trout. The fish picks up a terrific smoke flavor throughout, without getting a barbecued taste.

My technique is instructed by Chef Roland Huet, the original chef at Christian’s, who developed this for that restaurant’s great smoked salmon.

House-smoked salmon.

House-smoked salmon.

  • 1 lb. of skinned fillet of mackerel, salmon, pompano, fresh-water trout, or any other good, moderately oily fish.
  • 1 lb. salt
  • 1/2 lb. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Fillet and skin the fish, removing any blood lines you may encounter.

2. Dissolve all the other ingredients in a gallon of cold water. Marinate the fish in the brine for twelve hours, refrigerated

3. Using a fruit wood (cherry, apple, or grapevine), cold-smoke the fish at 75-90 degrees for two hours. The thicker the fish, the longer it should remain in the smoker.

4. Slice the smoked fish at a very narrow bias into slices as thick as two stacked coins. Serve dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, dill, and cracked black peppercorns

Serves twelve appetizers.

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