There are not many saltwater fish species that lend well to cold smoking. Generally speaking, the fish needs to have a reasonably high fat content to cold smoke. Kingfish is one that stands out. Without any doubt, cold smoked Kingfish is a real treat.
1 Kg Kingfish Fillets (de-boned with the skin on)
For the Brine
1 Litre Water
200g Sea Salt (Non-Iodised)
100g Brown Sugar
Smokai Smoke Generator
A non-reactive container
Make The Brine
Combine the brine ingredients in a pot and heat slowly until the salt and sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the brine to cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
Note: The reason heating is required is the water will be close to fully saturated and will take forever to dissolve at room temperature.
Prepare The Kingfish
After filleting your Kingfish, remove all of the bones and leave the skin on. Select fillets that are no thicker than 2cm - tail fillets are best. Thicker fillets can be cut lengthways to thin out (you can use the removed flesh for sashimi, fish cakes, etc)
Submerge your Kingfish fillets in a nonreactive container in your refrigerator for 1 hour per cm of thickness (measure from the thickest part of the fillet). So if 2cm, submerge for 2 hours.
Note: A non-reactive container is one that will not react to the brine. Aluminium, cast iron, and copper are all “reactive” and should not be used. Stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and metal cookware with enamel coating are all “nonreactive.”
Remove your Kingfish from the brine and soak it in cold fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes to remove some of the saltiness and “sweeten them a little”. Pat dry and place them uncovered, skin side down on racks (with a drip tray underneath) in your refrigerator for 24 hours. This has the added advantage of allowing the salt to further penetrate the flesh and dry the surface of the fish to form a pellicle for the smoke to stick to.
Remove from the refrigerator and place the Kingfish skin side down on racks or hang them from dowels in your Smoker.
Allow the temperature of the fish to equalise with the ambient temperature of your smoker for an hour or two before smoking. This is important as skipping this step will result in condensation developing on your fish resulting in an inferior product if your fish is cooler than the smoker.
Cold-smoke using your Smokai Smoke Generator
Smoke your Kingfish using your Smokai Smoke Generator on a low pump speed for 12 to 24 hours depending on how strong a smoke flavour you enjoy. The fish will firm up during the smoking process as a result of water loss condensing the flavour.
Do not slice your Kingfish directly after smoking. Place it in your refrigerator overnight to allow the flavours to distribute evenly throughout the fillets.