Smoked Trout on the Big Green Egg

The smoking adventures on the Big Green Egg continues… this time with trout.  I wanted to venture out with another type of fish since I’ve smoked salmon [we're a big fan of smoked salmon] every weekend since I purchased the Big Green Egg, which was almost four weeks ago.

I bought four whole trouts yesterday, excited to cure and smoke it.  But when I got home, I didn’t realize that the pin bones and spine were still intact.  Ugh.  I felt almost immediately overwhelmed by the idea of removing the bones.  I YouTubed some videos on how to filet trout, and got right in.  [YouTube always comes in handy for situations like this!]  Luckily, the sweet filet knife I recently got came in handy for this daunting task.  It took some time and hacking at the fish before I got the hang of deboning and fileting fish.  Needless to say, I finished without cutting myself [unfortunately, I accidentally cut myself often in the kitchen... it's a combination of clumsiness + hurriedness], throwing swear words left and right,  or giving up , but all four fileted fish looked pretty hacked up.

The final score:
Me 4
Trout 0

Smoked Trout on the Big Green Egg

3 pounds trout, about 3 to 5 ounces each, skin on, pin bones and spine removed, and fileted
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon black pepper
6 garlic cloves, finely minced

In a small mixing bowl, combine the all the ingredients above and mix thoroughly. Liberally pack the trout filets with the brown sugar mixture. Place in a shallow glass baking dish, and cover tightly with saran wrap, and refrigerate for two hours.

Rinse the trout under cold water to remove the brine. Dry the salmon with a paper towel, and allow it to dry in the refrigerator, uncovered. It should dry for a couple of hours up to 24 hours to develop the pellicle (shiny skin) on the surface of the fish. [I allowed mine to dry in the refrigerator for 12 hours.]

Fire up your smoker per the manufacturer’s instructions and your favorite wood chips [I used alder; hickory or mesquite would be too potent for seafood] to around 180 to 220 degrees F. Smoke for about 3 hours. Remove from smoker, allow to cool, and enjoy it with some creme fraiche, cream cheese, on a salad, or pick at it like we did :)

My First Attempt at Smoking Salmon on My New Big Green Egg

My birthday present to myself was a new Big Green Egg, something that I had been fantasizing and longing for, for the last year and a half.  The Big Green Egg is a kamado cooker, or simply a ceramic all-in-one cooker that can smoke, grill (and sear at really high temperatures), and bake.  You can even recreate a “wood-fired” pizza oven-like effect on this thing because it retains heat so well!

My partner has been a little less enthusiastic about the cooker.  It has been tough trying to convince my partner the idea of buying a semi-expensive the BGE, especially when we have a lot of house projects that we’d like to accomplish… replacing the carpets with laminate flooring, updating our bathrooms and kitchen, and redesigning our backyard to be more low-water maintenance.  And not to mention, my much anticipated hospital bill, which I still haven’t received from my recent hospitalization in February.  So I understand her concerns for spending money on the BGE when we have so much more to do.  I’ve mentioned the BGE to her more frequently these last couple of weeks than I ever had before.  I even tried to entice her by showing her videos on YouTube and explaining to her how it can even bake.  Whatever I did [I think it was the ability to bake on the BGE that sold her] to convince her worked because she was driving me to the only retailer that sells BGEs on my birthday!

After watching the instructional DVD, and perusing through the numerous BGE forums for the do’s and don’ts, I finally mustered up the courage to “break it in” so-to-speak.  I guess you can say I was slightly intimidated by the cooker.  I don’t really know why the BGE was so intimidating, or if it was just me being scared of change and stepping out of my comfort zone of the gas grill.  But after much debate with myself on which recipe to try first, I settled on smoking salmon.  It would be the perfect recipe to try as it would give me the opportunity to smoke something [something that I had always wanted to do], and to play around with the temperature control [which is supposedly really easy according to the BGE manufacturer, but I didn't think it was that easy].

The salmon came out beautifully after three hours of smoking.  I flaked a little piece for my partner to try, and well, let’s just say that she is a new BGE convert :)

Smoked Salmon

1.5 pound slab of fresh salmon filet, with skin on
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup kosher or sea salt (non-iodized)
6 garlic cloves, finely minced

In a small mixing bowl, combine the all the ingredients above and mix thoroughly. Liberally pack the salmon filet with the brown sugar mixture. Place in a shallow glass baking dish, and cover tightly with saran wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Rinse the salmon under cold water to remove the brine. Dry the salmon with a paper towel, and allow it to dry in the refrigerator, uncovered. It should dry for a couple of hours to develop the pellicle (shiny skin) on the surface of the fish.

Fire up your smoker per the manufacturer’s instructions and you favorite wood chips [I used alder; hickory or mesquite would be too potent for seafood] to around 180 to 220 degrees F. The salmon will be ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Remove it from the heat and devour it right away, or vacuum seal it so that you have it on hand for a while.  The latter may be difficult because you might finish it before you even get to package it away.

Rice-less Spicy Tuna “Handrolls”

Homemade spicy tuna handrolls are our go-to meals when we feel like having sushi.  We have a great fishmonger, Stan, that sets aside fresh ahi tuna for us.  He’s so convincing, too, because when we’re not there for fish, he’ll tell what he has in fresh that day, and we immediately order a pound or two.  Like last weekend when we were there specifically for ribs, and walked out with five pounds of ribs and one pound of ahi tuna.  We even told ourselves in the car on our way to the market that we were only there for ribs, and nothing more.  If only we weren’t so easily convinced…

It had been some time since we had spicy tuna sushi, and we were craving sushi that day, too.  So it really worked out in our favor.  The only problem was that I was too lazy to make rice.  I know.  What in the hell kind of Asian am I?!  I’m questioning myself, too, as I type this sentence.  I know it’s not hard, but I was too lazy to pick myself off the couch to make rice, and by the time I looked up at the clock, it was already nearing 1 p.m.  And I didn’t want to eat too late because we had plans to eat yummy things for dinner.  So, I had to forego the rice :(

However, on the flip side of this, I got to eat more of the spicy tuna “handrolls” because it was guilt-free eating without all the carbs! :)

Rice-less Spicy Tuna “Handrolls”

1 pound sushi grade fresh ahi tuna, cut into 1/2 inch dices
1/4 cup flying fish roe
2 stalks of green onion, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, plus more to adjust level of spiciness
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Salt, to taste

Nori seaweed sheets, cut into 4″x 3″ strips

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the salt and mix well. Add more Sriracha sauce if you prefer it to be more spicy, or add less to begin with if you like it less spicy. Mix well again. Adjust seasoning with salt to your liking.

Spoon spicy tuna mixture into the middle of each Nori strip, and enjoy! :)

Miso-Marinated Salmon

I’ve come across many recipes for “miso-marinated black cod” and “Nobu’s miso black cod,” while perusing foodie blogs and finally had the opportunity to make it.  My bestie was spending the night with us, and I wanted to make something light, but yummy.  So I brought the gourmet on and went with Nobu’s notorious miso black cod.  We went to Whole Foods to get ingredients for our salad and fish.  But to our dismay, Whole Foods rarely carries black cod unless it’s special ordered.  So onto plan B.  Unfortunately, I had NO plan B!!  After a somewhat stressful trip to the fish counter, we ended up leaving with salmon.  I prayed to the foodie gods that the recipe work just as well for salmon as it does for black cod.

And guess what?!  The recipe was perfect.

Miso-Marinated Salmon (adapted from Nobuyuki Matsihisa)

2 pounds salmon filet, skinned (about four 7-8 ounce filets each)
1 1/2 cups white miso
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups mirin
3/4 cups sake

Combine miso and sugar in the top of a double boiler.  Add sake and mirin, and whisk to combine, using a heavy whisk.  Cook over boiling water, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved and the color begins to darken, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool.

Place fish in 1 layer in a shallow dish.  Pour miso mixture over fish, turning to coat thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap, and marinate in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, turning once a day.

Heat broiler to high.  Remove fish from marinade, and place on a baking sheet. Broil until caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes.  With a flat spatula, turn fish, and broil 2 to 3 minutes more.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Baked Tilapia Fish Tacos

I love a good Baja fried fish taco with cabbage, crema, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  I can eat six tacos in one sitting, which may not seem like much to some, but I’m usually pretty full by number three.  Everything just tastes better when you overindulge!  I haven’t had a fried fish taco in a really long time.  Mainly it’s because I am on a weight loss kick and on my way to reaching my goal weight, but also because of wanting to eat more healthy.  So I really try to limit my fried foods intake.  I know, I know.  What kind of foodie am I?!  A healthy one who will indulge in bad foods from time to time :)

I hate to deep fry foods at home.  However, at one point – probably at my most unhealthiest – I entertained the idea of buying an electric Fry Daddy to fry anything and everything.  Luckily, I never purchased the item.  Now the idea of deep frying at home disgusts me.  The smell of deep fried oil lingering in the house for days as it clings on to every surface of the house.  The clean up of splattered oil on the kitchen counters, back splash, and floors.  Reusing the oils to fry a few times later sounds vile.  And finding empty cans or containers to discard the used oils is painful enough.

I’d rather sear, simmer, broil, poach, grill or roast to attain the desired yummy end product.  I’ll pan fry with a little oil from time to time, but I never deep fry foods.  Instead, I’ve gotten very creative at using the oven to “fry” things.  And a fish taco just happens to be one of them!

This recipe embodies all the goodness of a crunchy fish taco minus all the fatty calories!  So for those of you who are calorie conscious, this recipe just might be for you.

4 tilapia or cod fillets sliced into strips
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
Small white corn tortillas
Napa cabbage, shredded
Limes, cut into wedges
Jalapeno-cilantro aioli

Pre-heat oven to 500.  Place cookie sheet in oven to pre-heat as well.

Combine the fish, olive oil and lime juice in a in ziploc bag to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.  This marinade gives it a nice lime-y flavor.

While the fish is marinating, blend together the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, cayenne and paprika in a shallow dish.

Remove the fish and shake off excess lime juice and then coat with the flour/cornmeal mixture.  Place fish on HOT baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM or olive oil, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the fish on its other side and bake for another 5 minutes.  To note, this method of cooking does not make the fish crunchy as it would if you fried or or pan-fried it.  It just has a small hint of a crunchy texture.

Conversely, if you don’t want to bake the fish, you could also pan fry the fish fillets in a little extra virgin olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Of course the cooking time also depends on the thickness of your fish fillets.  Remove the fish from the pan and place on a towel-lined plate to absorb the excess grease.

Heat the corn tortillas in a microwave, and assemble!  I usually place two fish fillets onto each tortilla, add some shredded cabbage, a little jalapeno-cilantro aioli, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Of course, you can add what ever you desire onto your fish taco.

This meal really is the easiest prescription for a quickly prepared meal if you are in a hurry, or if you just want something yummy.

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