My family on my father's side have always been crazy for trout fishing. My grandparents moved to Turangi into a house right by the Tongariro river so they could indulge their angling passions on a daily basis. My grandfather used to fish his limit and then everybody else's on a day out on the lake. He used to regularly bring home around twenty five fish. This was back in the eighties.
He had a classic kiwi fish smoker he'd made out of an old fridge and the chest freezer in the garage was packed full of mysterious fish preparations. My grandmother made a lot of chowder she would pack into old instant coffee jars and freeze. I presume they got through it all themselves. I don't recall being served it. I'm kind of glad, unfortunately granny June was not a great cook. She hated it. No love in her food.
When it was lunchtime on a day out fishing on the lake, the family would cruise into stump bay and wrap a just caught trout in wet newspaper and throw it on a small fire of willow branches. When it was done we'd pack moist flakes of it into buttered sliced white and feast underneath the bare, ghostly willows.
Until I had cold smoked trout, this campfire preparation was the best way I'd ever come across for cooking trout. Then my friend Alex found a man in Turangi to cold smoke some of his catch for him and after I tried it I never looked back. Unfortunately I haven't been back to stump bay either.
The process for cold smoking trout is identical to the cold smoked salmon recipe I've posted earlier except for a 50/50 sugar salt cure. The trout seems to prefer less sweetness in the cure.
Thanks to my buddy Alex Swan for catching the fish in all the photos!
Cold Smoked Trout
1 trout, gutted, scaled, filleted and pin boned.
1/2 cup of sea salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Thoroughly combine the salt and sugar and then gently cover both sides of the fillets with the cure.
Place it in a zip-loc bag and remove the air or vac pack it. Place it in the fridge. Flip it over every day and check for firmness.
The batch in the photos only took 3 days to cure. They are not particularly big fish these days (when I was a boy.........)
When It's reached the desired state of firmness, rinse the fillets thoroughly, dry them well and then leave uncovered in the fridge overnight or for a couple of days until they have a nice tacky surface.
I hang mine in my wine barrel smoker overnight with a Pro Q cold smoke generator
I use apple wood sawdust in mine. Try beech if you can get it. I avoid manuka due to it's strong resinous qualities.
Give it another day uncovered in the fridge afterwards to let it firm up again and then you're good to go.
As far as eating it goes, use it as you would salmon. If you need hot smoked trout, bung it in the oven for a few minutes.
One thing to bear in mind is that you want to avoid any flesh right next to the skin or blood line which has a strong fish oil taste and aroma. Unfortunately this makes using very small trout quite wasteful.