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04/06/08 - Smoked Steelhead

Tuna Dan has been coming to the Port Angeles Farmers' Market every Saturday for a while now. We even noticed that another fish guy has joined him selling halibut. Tuna Dan sells halibut, and he sells steelhead. We love smoked steelhead, so we at Kaleberg Labs have been experimenting with some of Tuna Dan's best.

We started with a half a fish, filleted. That weighed about five or six pounds before we removed the skin. We marinated it overnight in a pyrex dish with one cup of light brown sugar, a tablespoon of peppercorns, two tablespoons of kosher salt and three tablespoons of whole coriander seeds. We rubbed the fish with the mixture and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, the pyrex dish was full of a thick brown liquid, a mixture of the rub and the water drawn from the fish by the salt. We set up a fire in our trusty Weber grill. We use hardwood charcoal from Hasty Bake. It has a cleaner flavor than briquets. We also throw in a chunk of apple wood from an old stump to give it a little fruit wood flavor.

When the fire is hot with perhaps half the coals turning white, we toss in the apple wood and set up for smoking. That means putting the fish on the grill, but not over the hot coals, and closing the bucket with the vents wide open. In a few minutes, the steelhead is smoking with a white cloud pouring out of the little vent on the grill lid.

We have learned, from a sadly overcooked batch of fish, that we need to keep an eye on the grill. If the fire is too hot, we close the vent a bit more. If the fire has gotten too cool, we have to open the grill for a bit, and sometimes add a bit more charcoal. It isn't like cooking on a stove or in an oven.

Sometimes, the fish is ready in as little as half an hour. That is, if it is thinly cut. Usually, it takes about 45 minutes, or even an hour. Done, of course, is a matter of taste. Once the fish is cooked through, you can smoke it down to leather. We like it a bit more tender, and we find that the flavor ripens after the fish is removed from the grill and let sit.

That's the Kaleberg Labs recipe, and that's some of the fish on the right. We used a real fast shutter to take that snap. You know how long food lasts here Chez Kaleberg.

Good enough to eat

Keywords: food, recipe, farmers' market, kale