SMOKY FISH Challenge
Smoked Salmon & Carp Get Carried Away by the Current
My grandfather was a commercial fisherman. He taught me a lot about fishing and prepping the fish afterward. As long as the river was open, we fished and ate fish. He had this 16-foot river jon, and there were days he’d come back with the lip of the boat barely an inch above the water. He packed them in. He fished the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River, up into Iowa, down to Mississippi, and of course, along the Missouri River in Missouri. He knew his rivers, and he knew his fish. And he didn’t let age stop him from doing what he loved. When he was in his 70s, he’d continue to spend all day on the river. He’d load up his boat with fish and get the grandkids to take care of the rest. I remember cleaning those fish into the wee hours of the morning. All these years later, I’m keeping that love of fish alive and passing everything I know to my own kids. And this month, I’m passing down what I know about smoked salmon (and smoked carp) to you. These are two great fish, and inside this newsletter you’ll find two great recipes you won’t want to miss — especially if you’re not too sure about carp, as a lot of people tend to be. Let’s start with smoked salmon. It’s one tasty fish that’s easy to cook but also easy to overcook. Once you have yourself a prepped salmon, you want to start with a brine. It’s going to be a quick brine because salmon is a delicate fish; it takes on the flavors of the brine quickly. I’m talking 40–45 minutes. And you need to keep an eye on it, too, because if you brine it for too long, it will fall apart on you. Once it’s done, all it needs is to be patted dry. Then you leave it out to air-dry at room temperature for a couple of hours. This is an important step you don’t want to skip. As the salmon dries, it starts to form a pellicle (the salt in the brine helps get this process started). This is a thin, tacky film that will appear on the meat. This pellicle is perfect for adding your spice rub. The rub will stick to it and keep that flavor right on the meat.
Before you put the salmon on the grill or in the smoker, think about how you want to prepare it. For instance, I love smoking salmon on a cedar plank, but there are other ways of doing it, including using a simple foil plate. When it comes to cedar planks, you need to soak them for 3–4 hours. When you soak them in water, you add spices to that water, and the planks will absorb those spices, which will then be infused into your salmon during cooking. I use a dill pickle seasoning mix for my cedar water. After around four hours, I take out the planks, put the fish on them, and stick them in the smoker.
Don’t have cedar or don’t want to use it? You can get yourself some heavy-duty foil and create a vessel to put your salmon in. All you need
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to do is poke small holes in the bottom of the foil to allow smoke to get up into the fish.
be sure to scale the fish as you prep it (you don’t have to scale salmon).
Here’s one big piece of advice before you put the fish on the plank, on the foil, or directly on the grates: Put a good coating of olive oil (regular or extra-virgin) on the fish. This prevents sticking — you don’t want to have to clean a stuck-on fish out of your grill or smoker, or off the cedar plank. For the smoke itself, I like to use pecan. It creates a good, neutral smoke that isn’t going to do much to the delicate flavor of the fish. In the northern states, birch is a good option. You can also add in a little oak — anything from nut trees. You want to avoid fruit tree woods (apple, peach, cherry, and so on). These will offset the flavor of the fish, so just be mindful of what you’re using. Now, it’s time to smoke it. Like I said early on, salmon is easy to cook, but it’s just as easy to overcook. Basically, you don’t want to take your salmon over 140 F. if you go past 140, you aren’t going to like it. In fact, I recommended pulling it out of the smoker just short of 140. Call 140 the max temperature. How long is it going to take in the smoker? Like many types of meat, it’ll depend on the size/thickness of the fillets. I usually get mine done in around three hours. If you really roll the smoke, you might get it in under. I’d say allow yourself three hours, but if it hits 140 F at the 2:30 or 2:45 mark, that’s okay. You just want to make sure it’s still pink on the inside and not flaky. There will be some flaking around the edges, but the fillet itself should still be together. If the meat is white and flaky, it is overdone. But if you keep an eye on the internal temp, you shouldn’t have any problems! Now, I do want to talk just a little about carp (and buffalo fish). I’ll have more on the recipe pages, but I feel the carp deserves some time in the spotlight, as well. It’s a tougher, fattier fish than the salmon. A lot of people fish carp for sport and catch-and-release. They don’t think of it as an eating fish. Carp is a white fish and a bottom feeder. When it isn’t prepared just right, it can taste like mud and be just plain awful. But it doesn’t have to be like that! It can be a great fish that’s full of flavor when cooked up right. The challenge comes with the mud vein. When you prepare the carp, you need to take out the mud vein. This runs along the spine and is where the muddy flavor comes from. To do this, you lay the fish flat and cut along the ribs where they connect to the backbone. Make sure not to cut into the spine or the vein. Then discard the vein and
You also need to take out the lower ribs. This is another reason people tend to avoid carp and buffalo fish. There are four
bones in the lower rib cage that can be a choking hazard if they get caught in your throat. They
dig in and don’t to let go. So, you’ll want to cut those bones out. Watch a few videos online on how to do this and get a good idea of how it’s done. We will include a link to a good video of this process on our resource page at gsa.life/2019february. It’s worth taking a little extra care for the safety of yourself and for anyone coming to the dinner table. And don’t let dogs or cats get ahold of any of these scraps. Wrap up anything you remove from the carp in plastic before you throw it away. When I was young, I got one of these bones stuck in my throat. My grandmother took a piece of bread, rolled it into a ball, and forced me to swallow it. Thankfully, it dislodged the bone. It hurt, but it worked! When it comes to brining the carp, you don’t have to be as careful with it as you would salmon. Brine it overnight and pat dry in the morning. It will also develop a pellicle that you can add seasonings to. One of the big differences between carp and salmon is the internal cooking temperature. With carp and buffalo fish, you need to hit an internal temp of 165 F. Freshwater fish carry waterborne bacteria, and this temp will make sure to kill it. As a fatty fish, it will also take longer to smoke — about an hour longer than salmon, depending on the thickness of the fish. In the end, you’ll be left with a delicious and highly underrated piece of fish. If you’ve never had carp or avoided it because you heard bad stories, prepare to be surprised. You may end up making carp a staple for your dinner table!
The True Classic Dan ’ s Smoked Salmon Ingredients
Rinse salmon in coldwater. Then place salmon, skin-side down in brine for 40minutes. Make sure the fish is completely covered by the brine. After 40minutes gently remove, rinse with coldwater, and pat dry. Let salmon air- dry onwire racks for at least 2 hours to formpellicle.
2 large salmon fillets, pin bones removed 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice, for serving
For the Rub :
With the pellicle formed, you can easily add the rub. Keep inmind, you can also add the rub at the end of the smoke.When you add it is up to you! There’s no right way or wrongway to do it. When smoking, always go skin-side down—and don’t forget to coat it in olive oil to prevent sticking. Place on prepared cedar planks (soaked for 3–4 hours), foil, or directly on the grates. Cedar planks are especially great because they’re reusable. As long as your planks don’t burn, you can keep using them. (Tip: After the smoke, take hot water and a scouring pad and clean each plank. Let air-dry.) Get your smoker to 190–200 F. Always place the fish in indirect heat —never over a flame or hotspot. You don’t want to burn the delicate fish. Youwant to slowly bring the internal temp to 140 F, and nomore. Overcooking salmon is a tragedy! At about 3 hours, you should have the desired internal temp. Remove from smoker and serve. You can let it rest for about 10minutes, but salmon is best servedwhen still warm.When you see that pink inside, you know you’re in for a treat! Enjoy.
1 tablespoon dill
1 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the wet brine :
• • •
1 gallonwater 1 cup kosher salt
Any spices youwant
Note: You can addmore water if needed or if smokingmore salmon. It’s one cup of salt per gallon of water. To prepare the brine, simply dissolve the salt in lukewarmwater.
“Ask a PRO” LIVE Sessions • LIVE“Ask a PRO”Session #1 TOPIC: Smoked Salmon Sunday 2/10/19, 5 p.m. Central • LIVE“Ask a PRO”Session #2 TOPIC: Smoking Carp Sunday 2/24/19, 5 p.m. Central Go to gsa.life/2019february for instructions on how to access these LIVE sessions.
SMOKY FISH Challenge
Are you ready to put your grilling and smoking skills to the test? Take the Smoky Fish Challenge and you could WIN up to $500 in grilling and meat-smoking prizes! Wanna knowmore? Head over to gsa.life/2019february for all the details on how to enter. Good luck, and we look forward to seeing what you cook up!
Win a FREE Dyna-Glo Charcoal Offset Smoker. Details at gsa.life/2019february .
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A Tale of Two Fish
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The Fish That Doesn’t Get Enough Respect
I Don’t Get No Respect! Dan ’ s Smoked Carp Ingredients
If there is any chance you cut the mud vein during prep, you will want to use a wet brine. This will help cut the mud taste. After brining overnight for 8–12 hours, pat dry and let rest at room temp for 2 hours to create pellicle. Then add any spice rub you would like.
Carp or buffalo fish, scaled and deveined For the wet brine :
• • • • •
1 gallon water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons garlic powder 6 tablespoons onion powder
Time to smoke! Set smoker temp to 190–200 F. This will
help you get to the internal temp of 165 F — the temp you need to kill any freshwater pathogens. As a fatty fish, you want to give yourself a long time to smoke, about 4–5 hours. I use apple wood for carp. Low and slow is the name of the game — and it will leave you with some great flavor. If you want, sprinkle some Tony’s Creole Seasoning on the fish to give it a little extra kick! Oh, and don’t even let anyone tell you carp isn’t great for eating! Enjoy!
Note: You can use a wet or dry brine. For the dry brine, sprinkle fish with salt and other dry rub ingredients of your choosing. Then wrap in cling wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight, 8–12 hours. Before you smoke, make sure the spine and mud vein are completely removed. This is the most important step in prepping carp, along with removing the lower forked ribs.
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