Seafood has been smoked for thousands of years. Traditionally, smoking is a means of preservation and extending the shelf life of a fish. Thanks to the wonder of modern refrigeration shelf life is less a priority when smoking fish, and flavor more so. For this reason, many modern smoking techniques are not used for preservation and the fish should be refrigerated after smoking.

It’s easy to smoke fish at home. You can eat smoke fish right off the fillet, or you can use it as an ingredient in other recipes like a dip or spread. There are a few important things to consider when smoking: the fish, the brine, and the wood.

The fish

The best fish for smoking include bluefish, striped mullet, mackerel, scallops, clams, Oysters, swordfish (belly is amazing smoked), tuna, and more. The fattier the fish, the more flavor it will absorb.

The brine

The brine can be as simple as salt and water or as complex as you like. Step it up a notch with salt, water, and brown sugar. One of our go-tos uses soy sauce, sugar, and bay leaves. Go savory with a ginger and garlic dry brine. The options are endless.

The wood

You can smoke fish using any kind of wood, but the favorites have traditionally been alder and fruit woods.

Beyond the three basics, all you need is a smoking vehicle. A charcoal grill works great, but there are a myriad of techniques that feature the stovetop, a smoker, even a wok.

Pro tip: turn your smoked fish into pate perfect for spreading on bread or crackers.

Smoked Shad

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Smoked King Mackerel

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