Discover the recipe of the smoked trout by Marie Chioca, what to delight your guests for the holiday meals.
- Trout (1.5kg)
- 5 berries
- Fennel fronds
- Pink peppercorn seeds
Knives used for this recipe
1 Prepare the trout
Take a large trout, weighing between 1.5 and 2kg (or several large trout, depending on the size of your smoker: in the video, we smoked 2 trout, so 4 fillets of about 500g each).
Lift the fillets with the slim knife (this can be left to your fishmonger if necessary). Keep the skin on so that the fillets do not tear when hung in the smoker, and it also makes it easier to cut the slices later.
2 Apply the salt
Weigh the fillets, then apply a rule of three to obtain the required weight of salt: smoked trout is ideally salted with 30g of fine salt per kilo of fillet. You can add 5g of sugar per kilo to round out the flavours, but this is optional.
Salt on the flesh side only, massaging the fish very lightly (and taking care to apply more salt where the fillets are thicker; on the other hand, little is needed on the tail, which is very thin).
3 Two cooking options
Option 1: place the fillets in a non-metallic dish, wrap and leave in a cool place for 24 to 48 hours before smoking the fish. In this case, the fillets (which will have given off some water) should be carefully drained before being hung up in the smokehouse on hooks.
Option 2 (faster, but also good): go immediately to smoking, but without hanging the fillets (as the salt would fall out). They are best laid flat on a rack, skin side down. Fill a serpentine grate with (well dried) beechwood sawdust. Pack the sawdust lightly so that it burns slowly.
Use a torch to ignite both ends of the coil, so that if one end goes out, it will continue to produce smoke.
Check that the fire starts well and that plenty of smoke is produced before placing the grill on the bottom of the smoker, then fasten the door and smoke for at least 5 hours, and up to 24 hours for a stronger (almost "smoky") taste, checking from time to time: if one of the two ends of the coil goes out, relight it.
4 After cooking
Once the fish has been smoked, wrap it up and leave it to rest for 24 to 48 hours so that the smoke flavours can permeate the fish (but those in a hurry can also enjoy it straight away).
To remove the bones, take tweezers and feel for them with your fingertip before removing them: they are very easy to find, as trout have only one central bone line.
5 The cut
In order to finely slice a fillet, you should use the "Chef's knife", whose wide, very sharp blade allows you to obtain fine slices that do not tear while being cut.
You can serve your trout slices as is, or season them with a little 5-berry pepper, fennel fronds (if dill is out of season), and some pink peppercorn seeds.
Sliced fillets will keep for about 48 hours in a cool place, well wrapped, and whole fillets for at least a week. It is also possible to freeze or vacuum-pack any leftovers.
6 Little smoking secrets
- There are all kinds of smokers on the market, but we made our own out of a narrow, old fir wood pot. We cut large ventilation holes with a hole saw in the bottom of the door, fitted grates in place of the inner boards, and added a glass window (optional: it's just for the pleasure of watching the food being smoked without having to open the door every time). It works very well!
- The coil grid was soldered by us, but it is possible to buy ready-made ones in the shops. If your smokehouse is made of wood, do not place it directly on the bottom, but rather insert some terracotta tiles or other insulation between the wood and the coil.
- Beechwood sawdust can be bought in specialised shops, or some agricultural cooperatives.
- Be sure to check during smoking that the fire has not gone out (this sometimes happens in wet weather).
- Once the fillets have been smoked, do not leave them in the smoker unattended, otherwise they may develop a slight "cold tobacco" smell.
- The salt content of 30g per kilo allows you to obtain fish that is slightly less salty than in the shops, especially if you choose option 1 (with 24 to 48 hours of rest in the fridge) because in this case some of the salt escapes with the draining juice. Besides, it is difficult to say which method is better between option 1 and 2, it is mostly a matter of taste as the texture of the flesh and the flavour of the fish are a bit different in both cases.
- Finally, it is best to smoke fish only in winter (and outside, of course!) so that the temperatures are cooler.
(c) Marie Chioca