Both hot and cold smoking traditionally has been limited to proteins. Recently, innovative chefs, bartenders and regular Joes have been experimenting with smoking techniques in various ways. A bartender in Portland  hot-smokes ice, then re-freezes it to use in his cocktails. A chef cold-smokes yogurt to use with a salad to give it a smoky taste. The possibilities are endless. Here are some random, rambling thoughts on cold-smoking, with some hot-smoking thoughts thrown in.

  • Cold-smoking ingredients impact a smoky flavor to food that doesn’t need to be cooked (e.g. butter, cheeses, salt, nuts) or that you plan on cooking later.
  • Hot-smoking ingredients imparts a smoky flavor to foods while cooking them (e.g. meats,fish).
  • The four things you need for cold-smoking include: A way of producing smoke; A method of cooling the smoke before it gets to the smoke chamber; A smoke chamber to hold the food/ingredient being smoked; Methods to regulate the amount of heat and smoke.
  • The internal temperature of the smoke chamber for cold-smoking should be below 85 degrees.
  • For hot-smoking, the internal temperature of the smoke chamber should be between 120 to 180 degrees depending on what’s being smoked.
  • If the internal temperature of the smoke chamber is greater than 180 degrees, you are cooking rather than smoking.
  • The conditions for cold-smoking are also ideal for bacterial growth. Therefore, cold-smoking is usually done in the colder months or in colder regions of the world.
  • Since cold-smoking does not fully preserve the food being smoked, the finished product should be kept in the refrigerator until it is used.
  • In addition to cold and hot smoking, meats can also be cured through brining, salting, wind drying or combinations of these methods.
  • Since cold-smoking doesn’t cure meats, salting or brining before cold-smoking is suggested.
  • Various types of equipment is available for purchase, or you can make your own. Being fancy is NOT necessary!

Here are a couple of pictures of my cold-smoker.

Keep your fork

Southern Broiled Trout

Southerners have various ways of fixing most dishes. Here is a good recipe for broiled trout with a southern twist to it.

4 large fresh speckled trout
Salt and pepper
1/2 c melted butter
1/3 c lemon juice
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 c grated onion
1/2 tsp paprika
5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Few grains cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper the fish and place on foil. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the fish. Broil in 450 degree oven until done.

Keep your fork

Believe It or Not

My good friend Catfish was walking home from the river carrying two fish in a bucket. A game warden approached him and asked to see his fishing license. Knowing that he did not need a license if he was fishing on his own land, he decided to have a little fun with the ‘carp, skunk and crow’ officer. Catfish said, “I did not catch these fish. They are my pets. Every day I come down to the river and whistle, and these fish jump out. I put them in this pail and take them around to see the sights. At the end of the day I return them to the river.”

The warden, not believing a word of it, reminded Catfish that it’s illegal to fish without a license.

Knowing that the warden is new to the area and probably doesn’t know the land owners, he decides to continue with his ‘jocularity’ and said to the warden, “If you don’t believe me, then just watch.” With that, he tossed the fish into the river.

The new warden said, “Now whistle to your fish and show me that they will come out of the water.”

“What fish?” asked Catfish.

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to get one over on ole Catfish!

Keep your fork

Grilled Walleye Wings

Nothings fills so great as catching your limit of walleye. If you’ve been saving just the fillets for a great meal, try saving and grilling these bite sized ‘wings’ for appetizers prior to the main feast.

To harvest the wings, fillet your walleye by making your first cut on the right side of the pectoral fin. Do the other side of the fish the same way. Next, make a “V” cut from the outside of the fins toward the throat of the fish. Leaving the fins on, take off  as much skin as possible. You will be left with a bite sized piece of fish that you could prepare anyway you would normally prepare the fillet. Use these ‘wings’ right away as they don’t freeze well.

1 limit of walleye wings
olive or other cooking oil
salt and pepper

Thoroughly coat the wings in the oil to prevent them from sticking on the grate. After placing the wings on the grill, leave the door open to quench any flare-up. Grill a few minutes on both sides and remove from the grill when the fins start to burn. Treat the fins like a toothpick and bite down just above them to remove the flaky meat.

Keep your fork

Crispy Fish Batter

We ate at a fire department fish and chicken fry fundraiser a while back and I was under whelmed with the batter they fried both in. Besides being way too thick, it was mushy. I really look forward to fish fries, but give me a crispy batter please. Here’s a recipe for a crispy batter.

1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp salad oil
1 c water

Mix and sift dry ingredients. Add oil to water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in liquid, stirring until well blended. This makes enough for about 2 pounds of fish.

Keep your fork

Broiled Trout Kababs

A couple of times a week Catfish will tell me about all the trout that he has seen swimming in the Shenandoah. If you are an avid fisherman and looking for a good recipe, here’s one for broiled trout kababs.

2 lbs trout steaks
1 c chili sauce
1/3 c salad oil
1/4 c lemon juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp tabasco sauce

After skinning and deboning trout, cut into 1 inch cubes. Combine remaining ingredients to make a sauce. Marinate trout cubes in sauce for several hours, then drain and place on skewers. Broil over coals or in broiler, turning and basting occasionally with sauce, until trout flakes when tested with a fork (about 10 minutes).

Keep your fork

Northern Pike

It was a repeat episode of The Last Alaskans, but I watched it anyway. One of these times on these repeat episodes, they aren’t going to make the same mistakes and the show will end differently. In this one, Ashley Selden was having an ice fishing competition with her husband Tyler. He was pulling in all sizes of northerns and she was catching diddley squat until she switched lures. Anyway, when they got back to the cabin, she fillet out a big pike and fried it up for supper. Nothing else to go with it, just northern. It looked like she might have dredged it in flour and then straight into the skillet without any room between the pieces. They enjoyed it, but if she would have fried it up this way, it would have been better yet.

4 fillet of northern pike ( 12 to 18 inches long)
2 c pancake flour
1 king size bottle of 7-up
Deep fat for frying

Cut fillets into 1 inch square pieces. Take a pair of pliers and remove all the bones from the pieces. It will be quite a job, but well worth the effort. When all the bones have been removed, add enough 7-up to the pancake mix to make a sticky batter. Dip the boneless, cut up pieces of fish into the batter and then deep fat fryer when the fat is at 350 degrees. Fry until the pancake batter is golden brown all over. Serve with a cocktail sauce, soda crackers, butter and a favorite beverage.

Keep your fork