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Smoked trout (and a near death experience)

October 2, 2010

My dad is an avid hiker and backpacker in Idaho. He does a lot of day hikes and at least one weeklong backpacking trip a year. Last week he took me on a day hike to a beautiful lake with as generic a name as you could find, Lake 33. There is no lake 32 or 34 so I assume the number has some significance that is older than me. If the lake is named for the number of people who’ve gotten lost trying to find it, it may soon be referred to as lake 34. my dad’s “quick day hike” turned into a 4 hour death march into a lake with no real trail that is surrounded by rock slides and boulders. I now know what it feels like to hang over a rock cliff with a 20 foot drop with my legs shaking from exhaustion wondering if I will survive to see tomorrow. In spite of the six hours of hiking (4 hours in the wrong way, 2 hours out the right way) I tried to find positive things to embrace about the trip. I survived and I learned that I never have to go back to lake 33. I also caught a really nice sized wild trout that gave me something to think and write about.

We had enough food to get us out of lake 33 and back safely to the car (if we didn’t get lost again), so after a little fishing we regained our composure and could stand up without our legs shaking, so we packed up our catch and hiked out the correct way. In my effort to retain positive memories of the trip I took the fish home, brined it, smoked it and turned it into a sandwich. I’ve been experimenting in the last few weeks with smoking and curing meats (hooray for homemade bacon) and I was excited to smoke a trout. For the brine I dredged the fish in a sugar salt dry mix that was about 25% sugar to 75% salt and stuck a few sprigs of thyme it its belly. I let it rest on the brine for about an hour and a half then rinsed it clean and patted it dry with a paper towel. I started a small apple wood fire on one side of the grill and put the fish on to smoke at the other side. I had to stoke the fire a few time to keep it hot and smoky. Once the fire is going you can dip wood in water before adding it to the fire to create a bit more smoke. I hot smoked the fish like this for about an hour and it came out perfect. Real easy. Fish is great smoked with fruit wood. I have heard that pear wood is especially good for smoking fish but haven’t tried it yet. When it was golden brown and some of its juices started running under the skin I pulled the fish and let it cool.  Smoked and brined like this it will keep for several days and maybe even weeks under refrigeration. Fully dried fish will also keep indefinitely under the right conditions, though dry storage is a bit more touchy, so read up on it if you ever want to give it a go. When I was ready I flaked the flesh off the fish and made a killer smoked trout sandwich. Check out the recipe here. It’s always good to turn a rough experience into one for learning, right?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Janet Cardoza permalink
    October 4, 2010 9:16 pm

    Fantastic post on the hike and luscious looking sandwich.

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