I hope you read the notes, because they will answer any important questions I just do not have room for in a recipe card. This is a great way to brine and smoke your freshly-caught wild (or store-bought) trout. It works for numerous other fish species too.
1 whole trout per person for dinner is recommended unless you have particularly large fish.
Author:The Peasant's Daughter
Prep Time:15 minutes
Cook Time:2 hours
Total Time:2 hours 15 minutes
Yield:1 trout 1x
Method:Smoking and Preserving
Whole trout. Gutted and gilled
Enough fresh water to fully cover and submerge your trout
1 tablespoon of kosher salt per 1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of cane sugar per trout
2 tablespoons of coconut amino acids (or soy or tamari sauce) per trout
A few bay leaves
Some dark maple syrup for basting (optional)
Toothpicks, 2-3 per trout
(I use hickory woodchips most of the time, but if you want a milder flavour try applewood.)
To Determine the Amount of Water Needed:
You only need enough fresh water to fully submerge the trout, no more. You can weigh the water too, but this is how I do it.
Using a 1 cup measure, fully submerge the trout in fresh water.
The amount of cups you used is the amount you need for your brine.
I like to discard the trout water and start with a fresh batch for making the brine.
In a large enough saucepan on medium heat, add your cane sugar (if using) and allow to melt and bubble until dark brown.
Immediately add some of your water to stop the caramelization process and prevent the sugar from burning.
Add the rest of your water as you measured in the above steps.
Add the kosher salt, soy/tamari/coconut aminos (if using) and bay leaves.
Heat the water and stir until all of the sugar and salt is completely melted.
Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature — IMPORTANT — do not use hot brine on your trout, it will cook the fish which you do not want.
When the brine solution has cooled down, fully submerge your trout in it and add a few teaspoons of whole black peppercorns.
Place your trout in the refrigerator to brine anywhere from 8 hours to overnight. Overnight is preferred.
After the trout is sufficiently brined, remove them from the solution and discard the liquid.
Rinse your trout under cold running water to remove the brine from the surface. Failing to do so will result in an overly-salty fish.
Pat the fish dry.
Using 2-3 toothpicks per trout, stick them in the fish cavity to keep it propped open while drying and smoking.
Place the trout on a rack to dry from 1-4 hours. This step is crucial in developing sticky the pellicle which helps smoke adhere to the flesh. I usually go for 2 hours at cool room temperature, but the refrigerator is probably best.
Preheat your Traeger on the ‘Smoke’ setting for 5 minutes.
Baste the trout inside and out with maple syrup using a pastry brush and place them, with their chest cavities propped open, directly on the grill.
Set your timer for 1 hour and every hour baste the trout with more maple syrup and check to see if the flesh is flaky.
Depending on the size, the smoking will take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 4.
Do NOT surpass 4 hours until you are looking to make trout jerky.
Do NOT let the temperate get above 200/220 Fahrenheit, and if it does place a bowl of ice water inside the smoker.