Ask a bloke how he smokes a trout and he'll probably have some fiddly tips that will leave you scratching your head. The good news: your fish doesn't need to be blended with Port Royal, or slicked between a few sheets of freshly licked Tally-Ho. Trout smoking is simple.
There are two main ways to smoke trout, the slow smoke and the hot smoke. Both have outstanding results and both are relatively easy to achieve. Slow smoking involves a few days in a 'smoking chamber' exposed to coolish smoke. The only problem with this process is the set up, as slow smoking equipment is a tad more sophisticated. Thus, hot smoking tends to be more popular, because (let's face it) you can make a hot fish smoker out of a biscuit tin.
Cleaning the trout
First you'll need to catch a trout. Dispatch the fish using the butt of your knife with a quick donk on the head, just behind the eyes. It's brutal but it's instant. Gut the fish, cutting from the butt up to the throat. You want to pull out everything you see in there. If you're a keen fisherman (especially of the fly variety) you're likely to cut open the stomach to see what the fish has been eating and match that with your next fly. When you're done, rinse the fish under a tap and remove any other remnant goo particles.
Curing the trout
To give the trout a little shebang we cure them. There are two general approaches, one is to soak the fish in brine and the other is to apply a dry salt/sugar. Feel free to experiment.
The dry rub
Mix 2:1 cooking salt to brown sugar (try one tbsp of cooking salt to half a tbsp of brown sugar). Combine well then rub it all over the trout – on the skin and inside the cleaned the cavity. Place your fish in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight. Rinse well under water, then pat dry with paper towel prior to smoking.
The brine soak
Combine a generous handful of cooking salt with enough water to cover the fish. Soak for a few hours, even overnight. Pat dry prior to smoking.
Smoking the trout
The wood chips
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the type of wood chips. You can use anything from mesquite, apple, hickory, maple and even stringybark. (Note: you can get your woodchips online or from outdoor / camping stores.) Soak your wood chips in water, so that they don't burn too quickly. Between half an hour to overnight should do it. The bigger the chips in size, the longer they should be soaked. Small shavings might only need half an hour.
If you're new to the process, it's best to outlay a measly $50 and get a smoking kit from a fishing or outdoors store. These come in various shapes and sizes. The rectangle versions are a great option. They're easy enough to throw in the boot on the next fishing or camping trip and small enough to hide under the BBQ when not in use. They'll come with a small burner, in which you need to burn a flammable liquid such as mentholated spirits (the no-odour version). Lay out the damp chips, then the fish rack. Place the fish on the rack and light that baby up. Crack open a nice ale. An 800g fish will only take 10-15 minutes to cook, so you'll soon be tasting a beautiful smoked trout and telling tales about the one, or two, that got away.
Rohan Anderson is the man behind Whole Larder Love, an online portal to an offline life of sowing, growing, hunting and cooking.