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Smoking Fail

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bugeater

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Well I like to do a bit of fishing and I did smoked trout in my webber some time ago and it was amazing, though a fair bit of work. In the search for an easier way I bought a cheap fish smoker that is just a metal box with some racks that is placed over a tray of burning metho. You sprinkle the smoking sawdust on the bottom of the box, put your food on the rack, put the lid on and plonk it over the burning metho. Come back 20 minutes later and it should be done.

I know a few of you smoke food, so I was hoping you could help me out.

I did a trial run with some Woolies sausages and mesquite sawdust. Two handfuls of sawdust, like the instructions said and I let it go. They cooked through but were quite blackened on the outside with some sort of residue. They taste absolutely awful. Inedible. Almost chemically or solventy or something. There were also big black spots of hard to remove crap inside the smoker itself.

What has gone wrong and what can I do to rectify? I typically cook steak on the webber with the inclusion of smoking wood, but this has never happened. I certainly don't want to ruin some perfectly good trout with another screwup.
 

manticle

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No idea what's wrong with yours - whether it's the metho or that brand of sawdust (or just the cheap sausages) but an easy, cheap way of smoking is to get an oven tray and a cake rack that fits, place it on the stove and get it hot. Add tea leaves (Russian Caravan is nice) in a single layer. As they smoulder and smoke, place your seasoned food on the rack, cover with foil and let sit a few more minutes then place in a low oven till cooked through. Allow to rest a further 10-20 mins or more with the alfoil still on.
 

Malted

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I can't give a definite answer but perhaps some possibilities?

Did the instructions of the smoker say to use it once to season it/burn off any maufacturing residues? Perhaps it had a light coating of oil to protect it whilst sitting on the shelf waiting for someone to buy it?
Perhaps residue/sap etc from the timber? Have you used the same batch of mesquite before?
 

benno1973

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Stupid question, but the burning metho is outside the box, yes? You're not getting burning metho fumes on the fish?

(I only ask, because I can't remember what these look like and how they are set up)
 

bugeater

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Malted - it did say to wash before use, which I did do (maybe not well enough?). It didn't say to use it once before cooking. The Mesquite is some I just bought today from BCF. I did drop a couple of larger lumps of mesquite in from a big bag I have that I have used before with the weber.

Kaiser Soze - The metho is outside the box. The bottom compartment that sits over the metho has holes for ventilation, while the top half just has the lid. You place the sawdust on the bottom of the top compartment and the heat from the metho starts them smouldering. I wouldn't bet on how separated they are though. Plus it is just a dish of metho. Other smokers I've seen appear to have a bit fancier metho burner in them.

I have heard about creosote forming on the food, which gives it a bitter flavour. I suppose this could be bitter... but still I'm not sure how to solve it. It's not exactly a complex process. Not a good time for me and cooking devices. The stove puts out a burning plastic smell at the moment.....
 

Thirsty Boy

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Fish is generally quite lightly smoked and quite lightly cooked - Maybe using a device thats meant to give a hunk of trout a little heat and a layer of smoke, in a effort to cook sausages, is pushing it beyond its design limitations?

Salmon in the fish smoker, sausages in the webber = more success i guess.
 

Malted

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Fish is generally quite lightly smoked and quite lightly cooked - Maybe using a device thats meant to give a hunk of trout a little heat and a layer of smoke, in a effort to cook sausages, is pushing it beyond its design limitations?

Salmon in the fish smoker, sausages in the webber = more success i guess.

I've used a nipper kipper before with a metho burner and you're hard pressed to do a cold smoke in them. Being a confined space the heat builds up.
smoker.jpg
 

bugeater

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I might drop the amount of sawdust for the next attempt and put the lid on with a bit of a crack for more ventilation. But I think sausages might still be worth it as the test vehicle. I don't want to mess up a trout, since I'd rather let it go than render it inedible with my inept smoking techniques. I wouldn't feel as bad if a pile of breadcrumbs and a tiny bit of animal matter went to waste.

On an somewhat unrelated topic, I discovered on the weekend that many of my fellow flyfishermen are also into home brewing.
 

Cocko

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I am only new to smoking and my smoker but see the 'curing' process parament when you are dealing with a commercially produced product.

'Curing' being - run a smoke only through you smoker/product before using it with food, this should get rid of any nasties due to the heat and smoke cake the walls for your first cook...

Again, am new to this but see this as a logical step in the process.

Also, burning Metho? Really? Are you sure ?

Anyway, hope you get it worked out, as my first 4 smoked outings have been amazing!

:icon_cheers:
 

bugeater

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Also, burning Metho? Really? Are you sure ?
Pretty standard for fish smokers. The metho itself shouldn't be a problem, but the crap they add to it to stop alcos from drinking it......

But yes, the first trout I smoked in the webber was truly amazing, but way too much effort.
 

bugeater

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Well looking at the amount of dust recommended for these other fish smokers, I may have used too much. The instructions on mine say cover the bottom to 1 cm deep or about two handfuls. Well two handfuls doesn't come near to covering the bottom, but that is how much I used. The other smokers seem to think about 2 tablespoons is the amount (much less). So I'm having another go with this amount and some fresh metho from the store. Definitely much less smoke this time, but I'll know the results in about 20 minutes I guess.
 

bugeater

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Well they are done and taste fine. Not much smokiness; but they are cheap woolies sausages after all, with quite a tough outer casing. Smoker is also much cleaner this time. I'd be willing to risk a fish now. I think the amount of smoking dust is probably the key.
 

punkin

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You still need to do a brine for hot smoking. It makes the smoke stick to the fish and promotes the flavour.
 

Thirsty Boy

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After brining - leave on a rack overenight, uncovered in the fridge. Develops a sticky outer covering on the meat that the smoke sticks to (this is for meat.... dunno about fish but i think its the same??)
 

punkin

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Yes, fish is better after it's formed a pellicle too, but an hour in a breeze on the countertop will do it mostly.
 

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