Cooking seafood can be a tricky affair, and smoking it can be even more of a challenge. However, with the right technique, you can smoke your seafood to perfection. Smoking is an excellent way to bring out the flavor of the seafood, especially with delicate types such as salmon and trout. If done correctly, smoking can also be a great way to preserve the fish for longer periods of time. In this guide, we'll break down two different methods of smoking that will work on all types of seafood.
Steps for smoking seafood
This method is what most backyard cooks are familiar with, and it's no different than doing ribs or even a brisket or pork butt. Smoking the meat at a lower temperature and with lighter wood not only adds incredible flavor but also helps to preserve the meat. Follow these steps for an easy and delicious way to prepare your next seafood feast.
- Get it clean - Whether using whole fish, fillets, or shellfish, give everything a good rinse and dry thoroughly before you cook it. Remove any scales or bones according to your preference. I would recommend leaving the skin or shell on, depending on what you are smoking, just to give some added protection from direct contact with the grill.
- Consider a brine - For added flavor and even to cure the seafood for further preservation, our Brines are super simple to mix up and will do the job perfectly. Since most seafood is fairly delicate, limit the brine time to no more than 2 hours. Even 30 minutes can do wonders for salmon and shellfish.
- Season to taste - Most of our rubs can lend themselves to seafood in some way or another, but if you are just starting out, try out our Under Da Sea kit for our favorite seafood flavors.
- Choose the right wood - Since seafood can absorb a ton of flavor just through smoke, we like to use lighter flavored woods like apple, cedar, peach, and maple. If you do prefer a heavier smoke flavor, pecan and oak are also options.
- Have an escape plan - That may sound weird, but having your food stick to your grill grate is the most common error when smoking seafood. Either clean and oil your grill grates before adding your seafood or use a specialized grill basket or rack to aid in preventing the dreaded sticking.
- Temperature is key - Keeping a cooking temp between 200-300°F and cooking until an internal temp of 145°F will produce great results time after time.
How to smoke seafood on a wood plank
Smoking seafood on a wood plank is a great way to bring out the natural flavor while adding an extra layer of seasoning and texture. The mild smokiness also works to keep the fish moist and add complexity to the entire dish. Here, we will discuss the proper steps to smoke seafood on a wood plank to maximize flavor and enjoy an unforgettable meal.
- Choosing a plank - There are several options to choose from in grilling planks. We've tried dozens and think we've found the three best. Cedar, Cherry, Maple, and Alder are all excellent flavors when used properly on seafood. You can choose your favorite or try our favorite three in our Lane's Grilling Plank Pack.
- Soak your plank - The plank should be soaked for about 30 minutes prior to its use to prevent it from catching fire and also to ensure that it does not ruin the flavor of the fish.
- Prepare the seafood - The same rules apply as before; before cooking, make sure the seafood is clean and dry. This method can be used with any grilling or smoking recipe, the main difference is that you cook on the plank instead of the grill itself. If you like to marinate seafood(our Pow Pow Marinade is incredible on seafood), don't worry about drying it off unless specified in your recipe.
- Flip the plank - As a precautionary step, it helps to flip the plank halfway through your cook to prevent burning. This will also allow the food to get more flavor from the other side of the plank after it has begun to smoke.
Smoking seafood is not a difficult process, and it can be an excellent way to add flavor and complexity to your seafood dishes. With a bit of practice, you can become an expert in no time. Now all that is left is to enjoy the bounty of flavor that comes from smoking your seafood!