If you enjoy seafood delicacies, there is nothing better than freshly smoked fish. Cooking fish over coal, wood, or hot fire is not only tasty, but it is undoubtedly a healthier choice. But to avoid falling sick, it is indispensable to smoke the fish at the recommended temperature.
For safe consumption, fish can be smoked at 150 to 200 ℉ for about 2 to 5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit (or 62.7 ℃). Smoked Cod and Halibut are done at an internal temperature of 140℉ and 135℉, respectively. Shrimp should be smoked at 225 ℉ for at least 30-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 165 ℉ (or 73.9 ℃).
Fish can be difficult to smoke as they can get overcooked in a flash. The fish fibers are extremely sensitive to heat. The key to getting flaky and juicy fish, shrimp, and other seafood is – brining and smoking them at the right temperature. Read more to find out at what temperature the fish is done.
What Temperature Is Smoked Fish Done
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), smoked fish is done at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (or 62.7 ℃). You can measure the internal temperature with an instant-read digital thermometer. Maintain this temperature for at least ½ an hour to ensure all the lethal microorganisms are killed and the food is safe to eat. As experimented by professionals, it is best to cook the fish between 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit based on your desired degree of doneness and the type of fish being smoked.
How To Smoke Fish?
For the purpose of smoking, filets of Mackerel, Trout, Salmon, Sailfish, Sea Bass, Herring, and Tuna are recommended. These fishes have high-oil content, which makes them ideal for smoking. When cooked right, such fishes have that perfect ‘firm-but-flaky’ texture.
Clean the fish thoroughly with water to remove dirt, grime, slime, blood, and harmful bacteria. You can use the whole fish or parts for smoking. Fish filets are easy to cook and give great results.
If you are using frozen fish, thaw it in the refrigerator or place it in cool water for about an hour. If the fish is not properly thawed, it can begin to grow bacteria or produce uneven cooking results.
Apart from cooking at the right internal temperature, it is also crucial to brine the fish with saltwater. Smoking fish without proper salting and cooking can cause food poisoning.
Prepare about 1 quart of brine for every pound of fish. After cleaning, soak the fish in the brine water for about 15 minutes per ½ inch of thickness. The brine can also contain seasonings like white wine, kosher salt, and peppercorn.
Dry Rub Or Seasoning
You can either smoke the brined fish directly or use a dry rub/ seasoning to enhance the flavor or reduce the ‘fishiness.’ A mix of paprika, lime juice, honey mustard, parsley, garlic powder, and soy sauce are some of the great options for seasoning. Don’t forget to spread some butter or extra virgin oil before smoking the fish.
Fish should not be left out without refrigeration for more than 1-2 hours. The ‘danger zone’ for fish is considered to be around 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Fish would last for only 1-2 days in the fridge and about 3 months in the freezer.
The best woods for smoking fish are – Apple, Alder, Pecan, Cherrywood, and Whisky Barrel Chips. Woods like Mesquite can give a bitter taste to the fish and hence are not a preferred choice for smoking fish. You can either use hot smoking or cold smoking methods to cook fish.
Hot Smoking Method
Keep the heat below 150 degrees Fahrenheit (or 65 ℃) for the first 1-2 hours. This is when the fish would absorb the maximum smoky flavor. Turn up the heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Smoke the fish until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit (preferably 165 ℉). As a general rule, fish usually takes about 10 minutes to cook per inch of thickness.
Depending on the desired degree of doneness, the process of smoking fish can last for 3-5 hours.
Cold Smoking Method
Cold smoking is done at a low temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6-8 hours. It permeates a nice smoky flavor into the fish. Brine for at least 24-48 hours if you are using the cold smoking method. Do remember that the cold smoking method should strictly be used for preservation purposes and not direct consumption.
What Is Shrimp Cooked Temp?
It is recommended to use large or jumbo-sized shrimps for smoking or grilling. The larger size of the shrimp works as a buffer against overcooking. Clean, devein, brine, and season before you set the shrimps into the smoker. Cajole, and chipotle seasoning or Asian marinades work the best for shrimps.
Shrimp should be smoked at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30-45 minutes until they turn pink. For the shrimp to be completely done, the internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit (or 73.9 ℃).
What Is Cod Cooked Temp?
Cod has only 0.5% of fat content, which makes it extremely lean, and proper care must be taken to cook it. Smoked cod is done at an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (or 60 ℃). Pulling at a higher temperature will dry out the fish.
What Is Halibut Done Temp?
A perfectly-medium-done halibut has an internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit (or 54.4 to 57.2℃). Since it has a low-fat content, it tends to dry out very easily, and the delicate, flaky muscle can fall out very easily. If you like medium-rare doneness, you should look for temperatures around 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Increase the cooking time to render it safe for consumption.
If you are smoking fish like Halibut or Cod, which have low-fat content, always brush a generous coating of oil (preferably Extra Virgin Olive Oil) over the fish.
What Is Salmon Cooked Temp?
Both Atlantic and Sockeye Salmon with skin on work great for smoking. Brine the salmon for at least 4-8 hours for the best results. You can baste the salmon with some oil, maple syrup, or maple juice. Smoked salmon is best done at 150 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit or until the internal temperature reaches 140℉.
What Is Trout Done Temp?
If you are using big trout (greater than 18 inches), it is recommended to butterfly it before smoking. Smaller trouts can be used directly. Smoked trout is usually cooked at 165 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit or until the internal temperature reads 145℉.
How To Test If The Fish Is Done?
If the fish has an opaque color or the fork comes out clean, you know that the fish is done cooking. It will lose its transparency or raw appearance when fully done. Remember to use the fork at an angle and insert it at the thickest point.
Let the smoked fish rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes before serving. During this resting period, there would be an additional rise of ~5℉, which would continue to cook the fish and make it juicy and flavorful.
Smoked fish can be a great appetizer or a part of the main course. They are also a great source of protein and the perfect pick for a clean and healthy lifestyle. Some of the best side dishes to serve with smoked seafood are potato salad, smoked vegetables like cucumber and carrots, baked sweet potato, cheesy rice or pasta, green bean salad, and many others.
Scot has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Scot spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.