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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Smoker for Fish



Fish is one of the healthiest meat options, and can be enjoyed in many different recipes and dishes. If you love the health benefits of fish, and enjoy the traditional smoky flavor of backyard barbecue, try using a smoker for your next fishy feast.

I use this electric smoker for ease of use and consistency. It’s the Masterbuilt – check pricing at Amazon.

I think they smoke fish there.
I think they smoke fish there.

Fish Smoking

The smoking technique, used to cook fish and other meats, has been around for centuries. First used as a way to preserve foods, it is a relatively simple way to remove moisture, which can allow bacteria to grow and spoil food, especially fish. The process of smoking is known in the science world as pyrolysis – basically, “the decomposition by heat.”

The two most important steps in preparing smoked fish are salting, then heating or cooling. The salting process is normally done by bathing in a brine, injecting a brine, or covering the fish in dry salt mixture (don’t forget about the smaller cavities if smoking a whole fish). The salt in the brine helps absorb moisture, and heating cooks the fish to preserve it. A more high-tech option is to rapidly cool the fish, but isn’t very common.

Smoke houses

It’s not what you think! While “smoke house” may sound like a place you weren’t allowed to go as a kid, it’s pretty different when it comes to fish. Here, fish is smoked to perfection using masterful recipes and techniques.

The two methods that are most commonly used are traditional and mechanical. In the traditional method, fish is hung up above the embers of slowly burning wood shavings over the course of many days, if not weeks. Interestingly, this method is popular in Scandinavia, where smoke houses have taken over many old school buildings.

The mechanical method is a lot more high tech. This method turns smoke into a solid or liquid form. The kiln is controlled by a computer, which makes the process go much faster. The end result is on a par with the more traditional method and is in equal demand from high end restaurants around the world.

The Smokenator 1000
The Smokenator 1000

The best smoker deserves the best smoker thermometer.

Which fish smoker is best for you

The Little Chief electric smoker is a solid unit that will meet the needs of the average smoker. This model will easily handle around 20-25 lbs at a time, is electric, and easy-to-use.

The Big Chief is designed to smoke more and in successive batches without worrying about a break down.

The Smokenator is a simple (yet genius) piece of bent metal that can turn your grill into a smoker. It can also be used as a windbreak to stop charcoal ash from spoiling vegetable kebabs, and at around $70, it’s hard to argue with that kind of value.

Big Poppa’s Drum Smoker Kit is one of those, “gotta have it,” kinda things. It’s sleek and manly, and I’m pretty sure 99% of users multitask by chopping firewood.

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker is a compact smoker made by Weber, a well known company in the industry. At around $350 it’s not quite cheap, but it is very good quality for the price.

Smoking doesn’t have to be complicated or super expensive. There is a great variety of smokers for under $2,000 (gulp), if you’re willing to drop a pretty penny. But, good quality smoked fish can also be accomplished on a regular grill with a pizza stone, it just requires a little more time and attention.

Smoke away

Smoking fish is a great way to preserve protein, and is also a fun hobby. Impress your friends with deliciously smoked fish at the next barbecue, or enjoy a perfect meal just for you.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Bryce Heitman

Bryce is not a real professor, but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

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