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January 19, 2012

The Process: How To Smoke Catfish


FISH PROCESSING FOR EFFECTIVE STORAGE: SMOKING

Smoked fish are fish that have been cured by smoking. As part of our Self Sufficiency series, we have researched the process for smoking fish for our faithful and erudite readers. The preservation of fish has been an integral part of every culture that subsisted on fish. Over thousands of years, man has perfected the art of drying, salting and smoking fish. The fisherman's catch, if properly preserved, can be an exciting addition to family meals over an extended period of time; when properly done smoking will preserve fish for several weeks or even months. Smoking is not only one of the oldest methods of preserving fish, but an excellent way to preserve fish that you don't plan to or cannot eat immediately. The fish dries an it hangs over a smoldering fire while the smoke infuses it with its distinct aroma and flavor. Not only does the wood smoke add flavor, it also adds color. The brining process that precedes smoking, helps to preserve the fish.

Smoking Methods
There are two general methods of smoking fish: hot-smoking and cold-smoking. Both require brining the fish, but the amount of brining time differs as does the length of smoking.

Hot-smoking (also called barbecuing or kippering) requires a short brining time and smoking temperatures of 90°F for the first 2 hours and 150°F for an additional four to eight hours. Hot-smoked fish are moist, lightly salted, and fully cooked, but they will keep in the refrigerator for only a few days at best.

Parasites In Fish
Freshwater and marine fish naturally contain many parasites. These parasites are killed during the hot-smoking process, as long as the temperature reaches 140°F and stays there for a short period of time.

PROCEDURES


1. Use only fresh fish or fish that was quickly frozen.
2. Clean fish, removing the head, tail, fins, etc.. Also remove any bruised or damaged flesh.
3. Wash in clean water.
4. Prepare a salt-water brine of 2 1/2 tablespoons plain salt to 1 cup of water. You need 1 quart of brine for 1 pound of fish.
5. Place fish in brine for 15 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of the fish.
6. Prepare smoker. Plan on smoking for 3 hours plus 30 minutes per pound of fish.
7. Remove fish from brine and rinse with cold water.
8. Place fish, skin side down on oiled smoker rack.
9. Keep the temperature low, around 150
10. Increase heat after the first 2 hours to around 200
11. Continue smoking until fish is flaky and cooked through.
12. Serve immediately or refrigerate. If you don't plan on eating the fish in a couple of days, wrap it tightly and put it in the freezer.

Smoking Tips
Any fish can be smoked, whether fresh or saltwater. Species such as Salmon and trout, which are high in fatty oils such are highly recommended. Fish that are high in oil will absorb the fragerant smoke and have a smoother, creamer texture than leaner fish do. Lean fish if not smoked with care, become dry and tough.

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