Sunday, March 18, 2012


Saturday evening, our neighbor, Frank, stopped by with two  big buckets of  fish  for us. The suckers were running and he had taken his grandson fishing but couldn't use all the fish.

Well, we didn't want them to go to waste!  Frank suggested pickling them because suckers have a lot of tiny bones, but both of us prefer smoked fish, so we decided to try that.
It is possible to smoke fish on a barbecue grill, but Rog had another idea.  On our farm is a huge cylindrical burner.  Probably it was oringinally intended for burning trash, but we have only ever used it to burn burdock and thistles. We always thought it would make a great smokehouse someday.  Rog power-washed it out and devised a plan.
But first we had to deal with the fish that night.    While I made supper, Rog cleaned the suckers. Twenty two of them. He took a break halfway through to eat supper and then finished cleaning and filleting them by the light of his headlamp.
The next step was to brine the fish.  We found lots of instructions on the Internet, but Rog adapted a recipe into his own concoction:

3  qt water
1 1/2 cup pickling salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup lemon juice
9 cloves garlic
1 tsp lemon pepper
9 bay leaves
The fish went into the brine in a big pot and were refrigerated overnight.
This morning Rog transformed the  burner into a smokehouse.  We happened to have a bunch of  fire bricks purchased from Craigslist last year, intended for our future brick oven. Rog lined the inside walls of the burner with the bricks, creating a ledge for the shelves to rest upon.

A couple years ago, Cadence and I purchased a bunch of large stainless steel metal shelves at a restaurant auction for $5 (we had to  buy the shelves to get the cutting board Cadence wanted.)  Rog cut the rectangular shelves down into circular shapes to fit inside the smoker.
 Rog and his finished smokehouse invention.
Next, he built a fire at the bottom. A layer of  fire bricks on the bottom shelf insulates the fish from direct heat.  The smoke travels up the front and the back of the smoker, permeating the shelves of meat, and out the tall chimney pipe on top of the burner.

Rog says he seems to have a knack for making smoky fires, so maybe smoking meats will be his thing.
The fish, removed from the brine and dried off, ready for the smoker.
Nearly done,  a couple hours later!
The smoked suckers are so delicious!

Tonight we feasted on a salad made with garden spinach, carrots and scallions,  tomatoes (not from the garden), mushrooms, and roasted almonds, topped with the smoked fish (bones carefully removed) and drizzled with homemade honey-mustard dressing. Absolutely wonderful!

Now my clever husband can hardly wait to smoke a turkey in his new culinary device.


Snooks said...

Oh my. Your dinner description made my mouth water.
What a great creation that smoker. Those kinds of creations are the best kind. Just by putting a few things together and presto.
The smoke fish look great!

@ 3Beeze Homestead

katiegirl said...

You two are amazing! What a great use for that burner! The fish looks delicious.

Rog said...

When life hands you suckers... smoke them.