We are thrilled at Handline to be featuring TwoxSea’s beautiful McFarland Springs Trout on our menu year-round. It’s farmed sustainably in Northern California and fed a 100% algae based vegetarian diet. It has a wonderfully delicate, sweet, pink flesh that lends itself well to a light smoke. You can find the trout in our Monterey Salad featuring local greens and seasonal ingredients as well as on our Happy Hour Menu in the Smoked Trout & Clam Chowder.
The key to this recipe is time and restraint. We don’t want to overwhelm the delicacy of the fish with too much salt or smoke. It’s a minimum of 24 hour process from start to finish but the end result is totally worth the wait.
Before getting started, you’ll need to collect some equipment to fashion a stovetop smoker:
1 half sized metal hotel pan (4” deep)
1 half sized perforated metal hotel pan (2” deep)
1 bag of cherry or apple wood chips
Step 1: Brine the Trout
To brine something is to submerge it in cold seasoned water for an extended period of time so that the flesh can absorb the flavor of the ingredients in the water. This helps the trout retain plenty of moisture through the smoking process as well.
For 2 large trout fillet:
In a small stock pot, heat
2 Qts Water
1/2 Cup of Salt
1/4 Cup of Sugar (or honey/brown sugar)
1 Lemons, cut in half (or orange/meyer lemon)
1/2 Bunch Parsley (or chives/tarragon/thyme/oregano)
1 Yellow Onion, chopped (or leeks)*
Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar and salt, remove from heat and cool completely before adding de-boned trout to liquid. Make sure the trout is completely submerged and refrigerate for 12 hours. Remove trout from liquid after 12 hours and lay flesh side up on parchment lined sheet tray and allow to rest uncovered in refrigerator for a minimum of 12 more hours or as long as 24 hours.
*This brine is extremely versatile and should be freely changed and adapted to the season, as well as to complement the end dish you wish to make with it.
Step 2: Smoke the Trout
Soak the wood chips, covered in cold water for 30 minutes. Thoroughly drain water. In 4” metal hotel pan, add woodchips and spread out in even layer across bottom. Place over burner turned up to med/low heat until wisps of smoke are visible. Too high a heat will scorch the woodchips and impart a bitter burnt flavor to your fish. Meanwhile, spray the perforated hotel pan with cooking spray and place trout flesh side up into 2” hotel pan. Set perforated hotel pan with trout inside smoker, cover with tinfoil and set timer for 8 minutes (for large fillets). Uncover to check for doneness, covering again for 2 minutes if necessary to cook through. Allow the trout to cool then enjoy tossed in your favorite salad, soup, pasta, etc. The versatility of this recipe is endless.