Smoking fish

The smoker is doing its thing behind the boat shop today, setting off a nice aroma of hickory smoke throughout the backyard and garden. I’ve been late this year, so it’s good to have another spring ritual underway.

My son Eliot, who is interning at the Barnstable Patriot — the local weekly newspaper — this summer, is the paper’s fishing correspondent, following in my footsteps from my stint as Cape and Islands FishWire Correspondent, for Reel-Time: The Internet Journal of Saltwater Flyfishing. In the belief that first hand reporting is the best of all, Eliot took a few friends out late yesterday afternoon and came home with five nice bluefish, which I filleted and brined in two quarts of water, a cup of soy sauce, a 1/2 cup of sugar, a 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a cup of kosher salt, red wine vinegar, worcestershire and cayenne pepper. Twelve hours later I rinsed off the ten filets, let them dry in the air for an hour until the pellicle — a metallic looking sheen developed — and then set them on the wire racks inside of my Luhrs-Jensen Little Chief electric smoker.

I’m on the second pan of hickory shavings now, will probably do two more as I like my smoked bluefish really smoky, and the fish should be done around sunset. Later this week, when I return from North Carolina, I’ll take four of the fillets and turn them into smoked bluefish pate in the Cuisinart, mixing in cream cheese, chives, lemon juice, cognac, worcestershire and a ton of spices to make the world’s best bagel spread.

Smoked Blue Fish Pate’
(Legal Sea Foods Cook Book 1988)

This makes a densely flavored pate’. 

1 pound smoked bluefish fillets
¼ pound cream cheese
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 tablespoons minced onion (or scallions)
¼ – ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh)
Freshly ground black pepper

Puree the bluefish, cream cheese, butter, and Cognac in a food processor. Add the onions (or scallions), Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice and pulse the machine on and off until the ingredients are combined. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Pack into a crock and serve with crackers or thinly sliced pieces of toast. The pate will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, or may be frozen for up to 3 months. (Makes about 3 ¼ cups)”


Next project: get some blue crab traps and start amassing enough crabs for a crab boil on the deck. Clamming is on the wane until the fall — too much poop in the water and the months don’t have an “R” in them until September. Next fish to target — fluke, or summer flounder — season opens today.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Smoking fish”

  1. Makes me want to get out in the boat for my second fishing trip.

    Something about whacking a mean fish with a club while trying to avoid hooking myself in the face with a barb to start the morning,

  2. “Fishing correspondent?” Damn, I never even thought of that askikng for that gig?

    Oh, so this is what a Bluefish looks like? i caught a tree fish the last time I was out totally bogus trash fish though.

    10-4 over and out

  3. David,

    Sounds great. I gather your quite the chef…

    Luckily for me Leslie came along, or it would be a life of take out and PB&J sandwiches.

  4. Tell El, he’s taking uncle Joe & cousin Teddy out, to whip & drive some blues & fluke, the first week-o-July. Cheers JRN

  5. do you have any recipes for smoking northern pike,walleye or trout???? I am always intrested in recipes

  6. Brine – one quart of water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar

    variations abound: garlic, onion powder, soy sauce, brown sugar, maple syrup — etc.

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