Smoke fish at home

You will need:
100g (3½oz) uncooked rice
100g (3½oz) granulated sugar
Handful of black tea leaves, such as Earl Grey
4 salmon fillets
Vegetable oil
Wok, with rack and lid

1. Make sure your kitchen is ventilated well before you start. Line base of a wok with a layer of foil. On one side of foil, put uncooked rice, sugar and tea leaves.

2. Put a wok rack on opposite side of wok. Put a drop of oil on skin of fish and rub over. Lay fillets, skin side down, on to rack.

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3. Put lid on wok and wrap some foil around edges to seal it tight. Using a wok allows smoke to circulate, infusing fish with a smoky flavour.

4. Cook on medium-high heat. Large fillets will take 8-10min, smaller fillets will take 4-5min. Carefully open wok in a well-ventilated area or outdoors – there will be a large amount of smoke.

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Impressions ceramic ramekin, Pyrex. Wok and trivet, oil pourer, chef’s own.

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Forget the expensive smoker. You can smoke fish with household materials and ingredients and get the same earthy flavor.

Posted by Michelle Archer

July 28, 2015

Smoking is a cooking technique that uses the smoke of an indirect fire to lightly cook and flavor your food. Here are two ways to smoke fish at home without an actual smoker.

On the Grill

You can get the same smoky flavor to your fish by simply using the grill.

You will need two baking sheets (preferably not your best ones), a metal cooling rack, some foil, sawdust or wood chips as fuel, and of course a grill.

See how it’s done in this video.

On the Stove

For this trick to smoke fish, you can use any kitchen pan you have that will fit the fish you are working with. A wok is best because it has that helpful slope to the edges. Whatever pan you decide to use, make sure it does not have a non-stick coating on it. If so, this cooking technique may ruin it.

Cover your wok completely with foil. We want to smoke the fish, not the pan. Use long enough pieces so that the foil hangs over the rim of the wok about four inches.

For fuel, you can use sawdust or wood chips of course, but you can also use things you have right in your pantry. You can use white rice mixed with some loose-leaf green tea.

The green tea gives the fish a great flavor and you can add other woody spices to the mixture like rosemary sprigs or cinnamon sticks. Using these items for your pantry is just as easy and also cheaper.


Once you have your wok covered with foil and your rice mixture and spices mixed together, place the rice mixture at the bottom on the wok.

For a less smoky flavor, cut a round piece of foil to cover the rice. This will make just enough of a barrier between the smoke and the fish to mellow the flavor a little bit.

Place your fish onto a metal cooking rack and place it into the wok. You want it about two inches from the bottom of the pan.

Cover the wok with a domed lid and turn your burner to medium heat. After about four minutes, or once you see a little bit of smoke rising from the pan, use the extra foil hanging over the rim of the wok and fold it up over the edges of the lid. This will seal in most of the smoke.


Reduce the heat to low and let your fish smoke for 15 minutes.

Don’t forget to open a window and use the exhaust fan because smoke will escape from the pan.

Don’t go out and buy a smoker because you are craving that delicious flavor of smoked fish, use these two hacks to make your own smoke fish simply on the grill or on the stove.

Recipe adapted from NPR

NEXT: Watch a Snake Devour a Crocodile in This Insane Footage

The Healthy Fish

You’ve tried fried fish, grilled fish and breaded and baked fish, and now you’re ready for something new. Smoking fish is a tasty alternative to more traditional cooking methods, yet many people shy away from trying it at home. However, the process is actually fairly straightforward once you have the right tools and know-how at your disposal. Plus, smoked fish offers a completely different flavor and texture than other cooking methods, so now’s the time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new and wholly delicious.

The Benefits of Smoking Fish

1. It’s Easy to Do

Many people balk at the idea of smoking fish at home, but it’s actually not that hard to do. You will need a smoker or barbecue, but once you set it up, the process pretty much takes care of itself.

2. It’s a Natural Preservative

There’s a reason seafaring folk have smoked fish for thousands of years, and it’s not just because they loved the taste. Salting, drying, heating and smoking fish was the go-to method for preserving fish before the days of refrigerators, and it helped ensure that fish didn’t spoil at sea. These days, smoked fish can be left in the fridge for up to two weeks, depending on the species and the smoking technique used.

3. It’s Delicious

Smoked fish has a delightful and unique flavor that you can modify according to your tastes depending on the kind of wood chips you use. While fattier fish like salmon are the typical choice for smoking, leaner fish like Tilapia also make for an excellent option, with Tilapia’s mild flesh making it ideal for absorbing the woody, smoky flavors this technique imparts.

How to Smoke Tilapia at Home

There are two basic methods for smoking fish: hot smoking and cold smoking. Since cold smoking requires fish to be kept at temperatures of 80° for several days, hot smoking is a much easier option for home smoking. This method can only take a few hours, with fish typically smoked at temperatures between 126° and 176°.

What You’ll Need

To hot smoke Tilapia at home, you’ll need:

  • A grill or smoker
  • Wood chips (applewood or cherrywood chips are both great options, as they will offer the right balance of smoky flavor without overpowering the fish)

What to Do

The first step to perfectly smoked Tilapia is to brine your fish. This process will extract any excess water from the fish, allowing it to absorb all of the flavors of the smoke. Best of all, it only takes about 15 minutes per half inch of thickness, with about one quart of brine required per pound of fish. Next, you can choose to season your fish. A simple mixture made of lemon juice, oil, garlic powder and salt will work wonders, but any concoction will do the trick.

Once the fish has been brined and seasoned, place it on the prepped smoker or grill. You can either plank the fish or smoke it in a basket; either technique will ensure that the delicate fish doesn’t fall apart once cooked through.

Smoking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish and the temperature of your smoker: anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or even more, if you’re smoking at a lower temperature. The longer you smoke the fish, the more smoke flavor it will take on, but if you over-smoke fish at too high a temperature, you risk drying it out. The best course of action while still perfecting the technique is to choose a recipe and follow the specified temperatures and timings.

Try It at Home

There are a number of ways you can use this technique to give your Tilapia some unique, new flavors. Here are just a few of our favorites.

  • Easy and Flavorful Smoked Tilapia from The Spruce Eats
  • Cajun Smoked Tilapia from Smoke Grille BBQ
  • Tangerine Hoisin Smoked Tilapia from The Black Peppercorn

Once you’ve mastered the basics, smoked fish is a wonderful addition to your culinary repertoire. There are so many flavor combinations to enjoy, and with a little practice, it’s only too easy to start experimenting and developing your very own signature smoky taste.

For more tips on how to cook the perfect fish, check out our handy guide for making the most of your fish fillet.

Photo Credits: The Black Peppercorn, / Creaturart Images, The Spruce Eats



  1. 1

    Place the eggs in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Chill the eggs in cold water and remove the shells. Set aside.

  2. 2

    In a colander, rinse the rice under running water until its clear. Let drain.

  3. 3

    Heat a large pot on medium. Add the butter then the onion, sautéing until it’s translucent.

  4. 4

    Add the garlic, ginger, and spices. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour the rice into the pot and stir until the rice is a little yellow.

  5. 5

    Add 2½ cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for around 20 minutes.

  6. 6

    Meanwhile, cook the remaining onions with the butter in a pot until they’re well-cooked and lightly caramelized. Set aside.

  7. 7

    Place the fish in a small pot with the milk. Heat and poach for 5 minutes.

  8. 8

    To assemble the dish: slice the eggs into halves or quarters. Remove the fish from the milk, remove the skin and break apart into large pieces with a fork. Place the fish, eggs, and onions in the pot of rice. Pour the lemon juice over the rice, stir delicately and garnish with parsley.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I smoke a lot of salmon, and I am proud of this recipe, although it would be the height of arrogance to say that what I do is the end-all, be-all of salmon smoking recipes. Lots of people smoke their salmon in lots of ways, and many of them are good. But I’ve been smoking fish for many years, and I’ve developed a system that works well.

Keep in mind this is a hot-smoking recipe. Cold smoking, which is the kind of slice-able smoked fish you get in fancy boxes from Scotland is an entirely different thing.

Almost everyone in Salmon Country hot smokes their fish. If you’re unfamiliar with hot-smoked fish, think about those golden smoked whitefish you see in delicatessens; those are hot smoked.

How do you eat it? Well, you can just eat it plain, or you can flake it and make it into a smoked salmon salad, you can pound it with butter and make salmon rillettes, serve it in deviled eggs, tossed with pasta… you get the point.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • A smoker. I’ve uses a Traeger and a Bradley. Both are good. No matter what smoker you use, you will need to be able to a) know your smoking chamber’s temperature, and b) control the heat, at least in a rough sense.
  • Wood. The only downside to a Traeger smoker is that you need to use their wood pellets. As a guy who used a Brinkmann wood-fired BBQ for years, fueling it with scraps of almond and other fruit woods, buying wood can be annoying, but you get better precision with this method. I prefer to use alder wood for my salmon, but apple, cherry, oak or maple work fine.
  • Salt. Buy a box of kosher salt from the supermarket. Do not use regular table salt, as it contains iodide and anti-caking agents that will give your salmon an “off” flavor. I use Diamond Crystal, which is cut finer than Morton’s.
  • Something sweet — salmon love sweet. I prefer to sweeten my smoked salmon with birch syrup; It’s just like maple syrup, only tapped from birch trees instead. Super cool stuff. But maple syrup is just as good. Just use real maple syrup, OK? Not the imitation crap. Honey works, too.
  • A large plastic container. Buy the big, flat ones from the supermarket. They stack easily in a normal fridge, so you can have two different brines going. And they clean easily and are pretty cheap.
  • A wire rack. You need to rest your brined fish on a rack with plenty of air circulation to form the all-important pellicle (more on that in a bit), and you will use it to rest the smoked fish before storing it.
  • A basting brush. You probably already have this in your kitchen, but if not, pick one up. Get the flat kind, like you use to paint detail on window trim.

Photo by Hank Shaw

When you are ready to start, you will need smallish pieces of salmon about 1/4 to 1/2 pound each. Any salmonid fish will work with this recipe. I’ve done it with king salmon, sockeye, coho, and pink salmon, dolly varden, plus kokanee, steelhead and Lahontan trout.

There is no reason it would not work with chum salmon or any other char or trout species. And yes, it works with farmed Atlantic salmon, but I never eat the stuff.

I prefer to smoke salmon with its skin on, but I’ve done it with skinless pieces and it works fine.

4.95 from 222 votes

Smoked Salmon

Note that my salmon cure is very simple. Feel free to add things if you like. I’ve added bay leaves, chiles, thyme, garlic and minced onion. All are fine, but subtle. And since I often use smoked salmon as a base for another dish, I want mine to remain simple and clean-tasting. Prep Time15 mins Cook Time4 hrs Total Time4 hrs 15 mins Course: Cured Meat Cuisine: American Keyword: fish, salmon, smoked foods Servings: 5 pounds Calories: 132kcal Author: Hank Shaw


  • 5 pounds salmon, trout or char
  • Birch or maple syrup for basting


  • 1 quart cool water
  • 1/3 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt, about 2 ounces of any kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar


  • Cure the Fish. Mix together the brine ingredients and place your fish in a non-reactive container (plastic or glass), cover and put in the refrigerator. This curing process eliminates some of the moisture from the inside of the fish while at the same time infusing it with salt, which will help preserve the salmon.
  • You will need to cure your salmon at least 4 hours, even for thin fillets from trout or pink salmon. In my experience, large trout or char, as well as pink, sockeye and silver salmon need 8 hours. A really thick piece of king salmon might need as much as 36 hours in the brine. Never go more than 48 hours, however, or your fish will be too salty. Double the brine if it’s not enough to cover the fish.
  • Dry the Fish. Take your fish out of the brine and pat it dry. Set the fillets on your cooling rack, skin side down. Ideally you’d do this right under a ceiling fan set on high, or outside in a cool, breezy place. By “cool” I mean 60°F or cooler. Let the fish dry for 2 to 4 hours (or up to overnight in the fridge). You want the surface of the fish to develop a shiny skin called a pellicle. This is one step many beginning smokers fail to do, but drying your cured, brined fish in a cool, breezy place is vital to properly smoking it. The pellicle, which is a thin, lacquer-like layer on top of the fish, seals it and offers a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to. Don’t worry, the salt in the brine will protect your fish from spoilage. Once you have your pellicle, you can refrigerate your fish for a few hours and smoke it later if you’d like.
  • Smoke your fish. Start by slicking the skin of your fish with some oil, so it won’t stick to the smoker rack. Know that even though this is hot smoking, you still do not want high temperatures. Start with a small fire and work your way up as you go. It is important to bring the temperature up gradually or you will get that white albumin “bleed” on the meat. I can control my heat with my smoker, so I start the process between 140°F and 150°F for up to an hour, then finish at 175°F for a final hour or two. NOTE: What my smoker is set at is not necessarily what the actual temperature is. Smoking is an art, not a science. To keep temperatures mild, always put water in your drip pan to keep the temperature down. If your smoker is very hot, like a Traeger can get, put ice in the tray.
  • Baste the Fish. After an hour in the smoker, baste the fish with birch or maple syrup, or honey; do this every hour. This is a good way to brush away any albumin that might form. In most cases, you will get a little. You just don’t want a ton of it. Even if you can’t control your temperature this precisely, you get the general idea. You goal should be an internal temperature of about 130°F to 140°F. (Incidentally, yes, I keep the smoke on the whole time. I don’t find this to be too much smoke, but if you want a lighter smoke, finish the salmon without smoke or in a 200°F oven.)
  • You must be careful about your heat. Other than failing to dry your salmon long enough, the single biggest problem in smoking salmon is too high heat. If you’ve ever seen salmon “bleed” a white, creamy substance, that’s a protein called albumin. If you see lots of it, you’ve screwed up; a little is normal. Here’s what happens: If you cook a piece of salmon at too high a heat, the muscle fibers in the meat contract so violently that they extrude albumin, which immediately congeals on the surface of the fish. It’s ugly, and it also means your salmon will be drier than it could have been. You prevent this with a solidly formed pellicle, and by keeping your heat gentle. If you let your heat get away from you and you do get a white mess on your salmon, all is not lost. Just flake it out and make salmon salad with it: The mayonnaise in the salad will mask any dryness.
  • Cool and Store the Fish. Once your fish is smoked, let it rest on the cooling rack for an hour before you put it in the fridge. Once refrigerated and wrapped in plastic, smoked fish will keep for 10 days. If you vacuum-seal it, the fish will keep for up to 3 weeks. Or freeze your fish for up to a year.


One last piece of advice: Try to fill up your smoker with fish. This process takes a while to do, and your smoker doesn’t care if its full or half-empty, so you might as well make a big batch. And keep in mind this recipe is for basic smoked salmon. Other options are smoked salmon candy, a great snack, and, once you have your smoked salmon, you can use it in smoked salmon dip on crackers.


Serving: 113g | Calories: 132kcal | Protein: 21.3g | Fat: 4.9g | Saturated Fat: 1.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2.3g | Cholesterol: 26.7mg | Potassium: 198.7mg | Vitamin A: 100IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

Salmon and Trout Recipes

Find more recipes for salmon and trout here on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook!

A B C’s of Smoking Fish-Hot & Cold Smoking Technique

BBQ Smoking is Not Only For Salmon!!!


“Slow Smoked Catfish Fillets Recipe”

Fish takes on a deliciously moist texture
when slow smoked in a smoker. The meat of the fish easily peels away in tender, flaky chunks as it is infused with all the flavors of sweet smoky wood.

In this blog, I will discuss the simple methods and techniques on getting a great smoke on whether a Salmon or a Catfish.

Our goal was an internal temperature of about 130°F to 140°F. “If you cook a piece of salmon (or trout or char) at too high a heat, what happens is the muscle fibers in the meat contract so violently that they extrude a protein, if you’ve ever seen fish ‘bleed’ a white, creamy substance that’s a protein called albumin, which immediately congeals on the surface of the fish, It’s ugly. You prevent this by keeping your heat gentle.

The “hot smoke” process for smoking fish differs from the “cold smoke” process in a fundamental way. The “cold smoke” process requires that the fish never reach an internal cooking temperature (less than about 90 F), while the “hot smoke” process cooks the fish to the center (about 145 F or higher). Between those two temperature extremes are conditions that can create an environment favorable to the growth of food poisoning bacteria. Both products must be refrigerated.


Cold-smoking is a method of preserving fish where the ambient cooking temperature stays in the range of 68-86°F (20-30°C) for 6-12 hours. The flesh loses some of its moisture and becomes denser without being cooked. The exterior of the meat remains soft rather than hardening as it would when cooked at higher temperatures. The obvious issue with cold-smoking is with the fact that the meat remains in the temperature danger zone (40-140°F) for several hours. The antimicrobial properties of dry-curing and smoking are what make the fish safe to eat, but this method may be best left to seafood processing experts with strict sanitation and safety measures in place to monitor pH and water activity to ensure the result is pathogen-free. I recommend a hot-smoking method that is safer and yields a moist, flaky result that doesn’t disappoint.

For my Electric Smoker Friends here is a link to the an Electric Smoker Blog on Cold smoking :


Hot-smoking takes place with an ambient temperature in the range of 215- 225 F, well above the danger zone. The fish is smoked until the internal temperature of the meat reaches your desired degree of doneness. The higher cooking temperature will kill any existing microbes so you’re guaranteed that the salmon is safe to eat

Fish Temps from Raw to Overcooked:

In his book On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee outlines what happens to the fish at different temperatures during cooking, and its characteristics at those temps.

  • 70°F:Soft, slick, smooth, and translucent. Fiber-weakening enzymes are active, and some water begins to escape.
  • 100°F:Soft, slick, smooth and translucent with a wet surface due to accelerated water leaking from protein cells.
  • 110°F:Protein begins to shrink, flesh becomes firmer, opaque, and juice is exuded.
  • 120°F:Flesh continues to shrink and becomes resilient, is less slick and more fibrous, opaque, and exudes juice when chewed or cut.
  • 130°F:Sheets of protein begin to separate and become flaky, fiber-weakening enzymes denature and become inactive.
  • 140°F:Protein continues to shrink, the texture becomes firm, fibrous and fragile, and little free juice is left. Collagen dissolves into gelatin.
  • 150°F:Protein is becoming progressively more firm, dry, flaky, and fragile.
  • 160°F:The flesh is stiff and dry. All protein fibers have denatured and coagulated.

FAQ’s Smoked Fish

What are the Best Smoking Woods to use for Fish?

When considering the right type of wood for your smoked fish you must understand there are essentially two types of woods: hard and soft. Commonly, as preferred by most BBQ’er , they enjoy using hard wood, such as: Apple, Cherry, Pecan, Peach, Maple or Alder. Remember that a little wood goes a long way. Too much smoke will make the fish taste bitter.

How long does it take to cook fish in a smoker?

Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Preheat a smoker to 225 degrees. Place fish on the smoker. Smoke for 60 to 90 minutes, or until fish flakes nicely.

What is the Gray portion of the tissues seen on the Fillets once skin is removed ?

The gray fatty tissue is fatty deposits rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in the natural pigments found in the rest of the fish.

Is farmed salmon safe to eat?

Yes, Farmed salmon is not only safe to eat, it is very good for you. This type of Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, premature births, and arthritis symptoms. In addition, salmon is low in saturated fat and high in protein. Farm-raised salmon is one of the most available and affordable sources of these healthy omega-3 fatty acids

Is it O.K. to freeze smoked fish?

Fresh and vacuum-packaged cold smoked salmon can be frozen for up to 6 months. Re-freezing smoked fish a second time is not recommended, as it adversely affects the quality of the product including deteriorating color, moisture and texture. Frozen smoked salmon should be thawed in a refrigerator at 40 F or below.

How long can smoked fish safely sit at room temperature?

When serving smoked fish, do not allow it to remain at room temperature (for example, as part of a buffet) for more than three hours.

Can you smoke previously frozen fish?

Frozen fish can be thawed completely and then smoked, too, but once again, make certain that it was in good condition before it was frozen. If you’re buying your fish in a supermarket, choose fresh fish over frozen fish. That way, if you later need to freeze the fish you’ll have no doubts about its initial quality.

What is the difference between Salmon and Trout?

Smoked Salmon is a somewhat dryer fish. Smoked Trout is moister because it has a higher natural oil content.

Slow Smoked Catfish Fillets Recipe


  • 6- 5 to 6-ounce Catfish Fillets without skin
  • ½ Cup of Three Little Pig’s All Purpose rub
  • ½ Cup of Three Little Pig’s Competition BBQ Sauce

All Purpose Fish Brine:

  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 3/4 cup non-iodized table salt, or canning salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


  1. Stir All Purpose Fish Brine in large non-conductive bowl until sugars dissolve. Add catfish, to brine, pressing to submerge. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove catfish from brine; discard brine. Rinse Catfish under cold water. Place Catfish, on rack. Let stand until top is dry to touch (do not pat dry), about 1 hour.
  2. Lightly apply Extra Virgin Olive Oil to both sides of the Catfish.
  3. Apply Three Little Pig’s Championship Rub to the Catfish.
  4. Prepare Good-One Smoker with All Natural Lump Charcoal and set smoking temp to 225 degrees for the fish.
  5. Arrange Catfish, on rectangle. Place catfish on foil on grill. Add your choice of flavor wood (Cherry) to the smoker, cook until Catfish is firm to touch and glaze forms over Catfish, usually 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Remove Catfish from foil, leaving skin on foil. Lightly glaze with Three Little Pig’s Competition BBQ Sauce, transfer to platter or plate; serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Chris Marks (CBBQE) Three Little Pig’s Rubs/Sauces & Good-One Manufacturing