Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Eating fresh caught fish is one of the great rewards gained from a successful offshore trip. Some Gulf-caught fish freeze very well and can be enjoyed months after being caught, but I still prefer to eat fish within days of being caught. I try to freeze as little fish as I can, but sometimes it is just not possible to either eat all of the fish fresh or give it all away, as unlikely as that sounds.

Often charter boat customers return home to fill their freezers with bags upon bags of fish fillets, which is wonderful until it gets buried or forgotten about in the freezer. Having fish in the freezer for too long isn't limited to those who take charter trips. I get very upset with myself when I let fish stay frozen for too long. I hate wasting fish.

Smoked fish is not only tasty, but it's also a great way to use the fish in your freezer. I vacuum-seal all of my fish and write the date and species on the bag. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy eating my fish fresh, so much so that I have pretty much become a 'fish eating snob' and will only eat fish when prepared my two favorite ways, grilled or sautéed when it's fresh.

Any fish in my freezer at this time of the year is not going to waste. It's going into the smoker. Early in the week, I move the frozen fish into the refrigerator to thaw as I prepare for a weekend of smoking on my Kamado Joe. I smoke fish, mostly tuna throughout the year to make smoked tuna dip. If you have fish in your freezer, there is no reason to limit yourself to just the traditional smoked fish varieties of Tuna, Wahoo or Mackerel. If you have ever smoked ribs or anything else, I highly recommend giving whatever fish you have in the freezer a try on your smoker. I have smoked everything from Salmon to Snapper on mine.

The key to making great smoked fish is brining it before smoking. I brine my fish for twenty-four hours (pick any fish brine recipe that looks appealing to you) and then put it on the smoker at 225 degrees for about an hour and a half or two hours. When it flakes easily, it's time to pull it off the smoker. Smoked fish itself makes for a very enjoyable meal, especially when it is still warm coming off the grill. If you prefer to make a smoked fish dip, there are lots of recipes online. I would recommend experimenting in smaller batches until you find or create your favorite.

Once you have perfected a smoked fish dip, bring it to a holiday party. It will be gone quicker than the best Dirty Santa gift of the evening.


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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1323 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…