Hunt & Gather: Smoked Trout

Welcome to my newest segment, Hunt and Gather – the wild recipe archive.

It should be noted that I started learning HTML at the age of 11 when I channeled my prepubescent loneliness through making websites. I’ve been building and designing for personal and business use since then but mainly it’s been a lot of – create a site / blog for a week – delete – wait two months – start again.

I’ve gone through many! themes and ideas over the years, one of which was the Hunt and Gather recipe blog that I briefly published while we were living in Kitimat, winter of 2019. Clearly it did not last but the idea always stuck. I feel this is a much better space to reintroduce the idea!

Hunt and Gather is inspired by exactly what it is : Hunting and Gathering your food as opposed to slipping into a grocery store. It’s a practice that’s been lost in many of our societies, cultures/traditional way of feeding ourselves and our families; terrifyingly so, as one can’t help but acknowledge the inevitable lack of independence, knowledge, and ultimately skill that most find themselves in today. It’s never too late to regain those skills.

Maybe the blog didn’t work out in Kitimat because it wasn’t true – we were not hunting nor gathering at that time. Fake news! Skip forward to 2021 and we have a deer in the freezer and we are smoking some freshly caught trout in the backyard. Alright, now we are on to something.

Curt has been a hunter all his life – I come from a more docile family of fishermen (no hunters or trappers there). I aspire to hunt with a bow in the future, but in the meantime, we share the rods and Curt handles the bigger stuff. We have both glubbered over how much we would love to grow a farm, earth to fork meals on the daily, pickled and preserved; fantasizing over the witchy cold room packed to the ceiling with canned goodies and winter squash. Yummy!!!

So Hunt and Gather will be the category for wild recipes, with meat/produce that we catch and process or grow ourselves.

Curt and his boss went out and caught us a few morsels yesterday – A nice sized Rainbow trout and a smaller Brooke. We decided on smoking them so we gut them and sat them in a salt mixture for two hours while getting the smoker ready.

Post Salt Soak : Two Hours (minimum). Gutted, stuffed with lemon, dill, and propped open with sticks.

We operate a Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite, and cooked the fish at 185°F for two and a half hours. We used twigs to pry them open, but intend on using cinnamon sticks next time for a flavor boost. We simply stuck a few slices of lemon and some fresh sprigs of dill in the openings of the fish (with the sticks to keep them open) and placed them on the rack (flipping them over once half way through). Should be noted that we used Applewood for this recipe. It would also be advisable to install a drip tray under the fish.

Guys, once this fish was pulled out of the smoker, we powered through about half of each carcass. Like, immediately ravishing like hungry lions. With flavor that good, you’ve got to spoil yourself!!

Straight out of the smoker
Begin the feast, straight from the skin

The result of the fish… phenomenal. The Brooke trout was a little more firm as it was a smaller fish, cooked for the same amount of time and all – the flavor was just outrageous. Little crispy bits along the skin were soaked in citrus and slightly salty. Mouth watering. The rainbow had some of the same, but was mainly must softer in texture, the flavor simply divine. Very subtle lemon and dill throughout, it was so, so good. The Applewood served as the perfect companion to the simple recipe.

So the thing with smoked fish is that well, to me anyway, it tastes totally funky reheated (if alone, can be great in prepped dishes but again this is just a preference) – so if you want it warm, you’ve got to eat it fresh from the smoker- no problem there. But if you’re left with remains, I’ve got a great way to take care of the rest in the AM.

The Day After…

You’re going to want to gather some things : loaf of your favorite bread – we used an onion loaf that we picked up from the local bakery – any kind of sourdough or dill bread is highly recommended for this diddy. Gather some cream cheese, chop up some red onion, grab a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of dill and a few capers if ya got em. Throw that down like your favorite beat.

Now, my friends, take a big ol’ bite, and smile.

Enjoy!!!

The Recipe

SALTING

After processing your fish (you need only gut/clean them), you will want to salt bath it for a minimum of two hours. You will need sea salt and brown sugar at a ratio of 2:1. Cover the fish in this mixture for best results. (Wanna smoke a bunch? Layer your fish & salt in a deep bin and cover! Easy peasy)

PRE SMOKE

Get your smoker ready with chips of choice – we used Applewood. I highly recommend researching what flavor you’d like to work with and choose chips accordingly. We then propped our fish open with sticks and stuffed them with fresh baby dill, and lemon slices (thinly sliced and in half). TIP: Salt and smoke your fish for longer amount of time if you desire texture closer to jerky.

SMOKING

Place both fish on a rack in the smoker with a drip tray installed. Heat on for 185°F, and timer set for two and a half (2.5) hours. We did two rounds of smoke during this time.

READY / AFTER SMOKER

Once the fish is smoked, bring it inside and let rest / slightly cool for just a wee bit. We couldn’t keep our hands off it to be honest… You can remove and discard the lemon and dill. You may also remove the head, and cut towards the tail to remove the tail as well – there is very tasty meat in the tail so make sure not to waste! We ate the most of the fish right off the skin – making sure to pick out the large bones.

You can store your trout in a container, I would recommend removing all meat from skin/carcass before putting in the fridge. Smoked trout will last in the fridge for about a week.

THE SANDWICH ❤

(This is one of my favorite things to eat)

Cut a thick slice of bread and toast it for a medium burn. Spread a thin layer of butter, then top with cream cheese. Add shredded trout (about 1/4 cup worth is my preference), and squeeze a lemon slice over top. Add thinly sliced/shaved red onion, fresh dill sprigs, and a few capers if you have them. This is meant to be an open faced sandwich and you’re definitely going to want seconds.

Or thirds…

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