Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Smoked trout in a bag

Last week I have discovered an easy way to add smoked flavor to baked or grilled fish - smoker bags for oven or grill - and I used it to "smoke" whole trout several times, with great success.

The bag is made of several layers of aluminum foil, there are alder wood chips between the layers, and tiny holes in the inside layer. You rub the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper inside and out, place a few lemon slices and/or herb sprigs inside each fish, put the fish in the bag and close it. Then you can place the whole thing on a pre-heated gas grill, or in a hot oven. The chips release the smoke inside the bag, and it imparts it's flavor on the fish while it cooks.

Because the fish is enclosed, it doesn't lose any moisture, the way it does in real hot-smoking. The result is a moist, tender, steamed-fish texture, with a smoky flavor.

I found that one bag can accommodate 2-3 large trouts, up to four pounds total weight. Baking in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes works very well. The best results, however, I got when I grilled the fish package over very hot grill for about 30 minutes. The fish got a little charred on the edges while the centers stayed moist.

Update 4/7/2011:
Today I smoked a 2.5 pound slab of pork ribs in a bag. I used a pre-made dry rub on the ribs (Jake's Righteous Rub: paprika, brown sugar, garlic, parsley, tarragon, oregano, salt - thank you, Jake! I've added fresh ground black pepper, and more paprika for color). My gas grill goes from zero to 600 in about 15 minutes. I kept the bag at 550 degrees until the chips started smoking, 15 minutes or so, then reduced the heat to 325, and cooked the bag for a little over an hour.

Although the meat came out very tasty and falling off the bone tender, there is a lot of room for improvement:
- alder wood smoke is not as dramatic on pork as it is on fish; the bags are also available with hickory chips - I'll try this next
- the surface of the meat is somewhat dry; reduce the time at high temperature, and reduce the slow-cooking temperature too. It may be a good idea to marinate the meat instead of using a dry rub
- the bag had room for much more than just one slab of ribs; I'll toss in some onions and garlic, and may be even small potatoes next time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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