Smoking a whole fish is not a casual undertaking, but if you like a cooking project, this is a cool one. The method comes from Little Brother in Des Moines, where Joe and Alex Tripp make nearly everything from scratch. Use the end product in place of canned tuna for an upscale salad spread, flaked over a lettuce salad, or with bagels and cream cheese.

Source: Midwest Living


Recipe Summary

3 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In an 8-quart Dutch oven, combine the water, salt, onion, dill, brown sugar, lemon zest strips, peppercorns and garlic. Stir mixture over medium until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat. Place brine in refrigerator and let cool at least 4 hours or until cold to the touch.

  • Remove head, fins and scales from whole fish. Submerge fish in brine, cover and chill 24 hours.

  • Remove fish from brine; discard brine. Place fish on a wire rack set over a 15x10-inch baking pan. Place two or three toothpicks in the cavity to prop fish open. Let fish dry, uncovered, overnight in refrigerator to develop a pellicle (sticky layer on the surface). (This may seem like a small step, but it is crucial to the smoking of the fish, as it allows the smoke to cling to the fish and greatly improves the final product's texture.)

  • Heat a smoker to 200°. Place fish on a rack in the smoker and smoke fish until internal temperature reaches 160°, about 2 hours (depending on thickness of fish).

  • In a small bowl, stir together maple syrup and soy sauce. When fish reaches 160°, baste fish with syrup-soy sauce mixture. Continue smoking fish and basting every 15 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165° to 170°. Remove fish from smoker and let cool to room temperature. Remove and discard skin and bones from fish.

Nutrition Facts

127 calories; fat 5g; cholesterol 49mg; saturated fat 1g; carbohydrates 4g; mono fat 2g; poly fat 2g; sugars 3g; protein 17g; vitamin a 92IU; vitamin c 0.4mg; thiamin 0.1mg; riboflavin 0.2mg; niacin equivalents 2.5mg; vitamin b6 0.2mg; folate 12.2mcg; vitamin b12 0.8mcg; sodium 459mg; potassium 301mg; calcium 29mg; iron 0.4mg.