Okay I’m haven’t been smoking herring to make kippers, but it is a line from the TV show Red Dwarf. Anyway I have been smoking fish for a couple of dishes I will be making later. The other week I took apart the grill and smoker attachment and gave them a good clean for the summer barbecuing. I have a Weber Kettle grill with a gas starter. It has all the convince of a gas grill, but you still get the flavour from the charcoal.
When I arrived in the US, I bought a smoker attachment for the Weber called the ‘Smokenator 1000‘. Rather than buying a dedicated smoker, this simple piece of metal fits under the main grid to provide indirect cooking and a water dish to keep the temperature down and to provide moisture to prevent the food drying out. The Smokenator holds enough coals and wood to provide enough fuel for 6 hours of cooking which given that fish usually only takes about 2 hours in the smoker, you could cook a lot of smoked fish for the freezer or cook something else after the fish has cooked.
I smoked two types of fish, mackerel and tilapia. The only place that I could find mackerel in Houston was in the freezer section from the local Asian Supermarket. I wanted to get haddock to smoke, but it is nowhere to be found, but what I want it for tilapia is okay.
Low and slow smoked fish
This is a low and slow method for cooking fish in a smoker. First set-up your smoker with enough charcoal and wood chunks for at least 2 hours of cooking. Adjust the air vents until the temperature of the smoker is at a steady 240F (115C). Make a little foil dish for the fish and pierce one hole in the bottom of it. Make sure the fish is clean and place it on the foil dish and put it into the smoker. Wait for 2 hours and remove the fish. You can now use the fish for whatever dish you want or freeze it for later.
Alternative method for smoked fish
If you don’t have a smoker, you can still make smoked fish in a charcoal grill, but the process is hotter, quicker, and it has the potential to dry out the fish. To help prevent the fish from drying out too much, you should soak the fish in a brine solution for at least a couple of hours before cooking. Bring the charcoal up to normal cooking temperature and place them to one side of the barbecue. Place the fish on the other side of the barbecue, away from the coals. Throw on a handful of pre-soaked wood chips on the coals and close the lid of the barbecue. The fish should be ready to eat in about 20mins.