Smoked Black Cod

While I love cooking Black Cod a number of ways, there are some who insist that it's best smoked. It is an excellent fish for smoking. And what better time to smoke a bunch of fish than our first big storm of the winter season! No biggie in a traditional wood fired smoker, I suppose, but ours is electric. Preparing fish for smoking is a very long process, and all the while I kept expecting the power to go out, but fortune smiled upon us amidst the heavy rain and gusting 40 knot winds! Luckily our covered porch faces north.

The fish really did turn out fabulous. We tried two different brines that a good friend recommended. 

Black Cod ready for the smoker

Black Cod ready for the smoker

These are the two recipes we used, slightly adapted from the "Little Chief" smoker book to our preferences. We favor the first recipe.

 Smoked Black Cod #1 

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves

Brine Black Cod chunks 4-8 hours, depending on thickness, keep refrigerated. The fish will become firmer when it's ready to be removed from the brine. Pat dry and place on your smoker racks* for 2-4 hours, until a smooth skin or "pellicle" forms. The pellicle seals the surface and prevents loss of natural juices during smoking.

Start Smoker using Alder for first hour; then Cherry the second hour. Leave in the smoker until drying is completed. 

Smoking time will vary from 2 to 4 hrs at 160 °F, depending on volume. Remember the racks closest to the burner will be done first; place largest and thickest chunks on the bottom rack. When fish is done, remove and let cool.

Store Smoked fish in refrigerator. Freeze fish if it will be stored for more than a few days.

 Smoked Black Cod #2

  • 2 qts. water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice   
  • ¼ Tbsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ Tbsp. onion powder
  • zest of 1 lemon (strips)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • coarse black pepper

Mix all ingredients (except the pepper) and stir until dissolved. Brine fish 4 or more hours. Lightly rinse and pat dry. Press coarse black pepper onto the flesh side of the fillets to taste. Place on smoker racks* for 2-4 hours, until a smooth skin or "pellicle" forms. Follow directions from the first recipe to smoke.

*We recommend oiling your smoker racks before placing the fish on them to keep the fish from sticking and to make the clean up easier!