Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ya Caught Em, You Smoke Em

Today is fish smoking day at the Bennett's house.  I was given a Little Chief Smoker by John Sutherland and today I learn to smoke Blue Back/Kokanee!

Smoking fish and meats and the recipes that go into creating the finished product can be like finding two snowflakes alike, there are so many possibilities and secret family recipes that it would take forever to look at them all.   I searched and talked until I was confused.

Everyone has their own opinion on how to smoke fish.  What do you do when there is such a wide variety of ways to prepare and smoke meats?  I went to a couple different sources that I believe would give me good information.  Mark the Steelhead man and Jim Headley, via Alex.  I have tasted both their results and when I compared their production processes they were about the same. Once I made the decision to go with their methods, I consulted Darren who smoked fish years ago and we agreed that the recipes I would follow are solid performers so I proceeded.

The brining processes go as follows (remember you don't know where you heard this and the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of these actions):  Marks Super Secret Brine - 1.5 gallons water, 2 cups dark brown sugar, 1 cup pickling salt.  Mix, taste, adjust; brine for six to eight hours.  Jim and Alex's Magic Smoking Technique - Cover fish inside and out with brown sugar and salt, let set for about eight hours.

For my first attempt I chose Mark's and followed his advice as best I could.  Both smoking techniques call for a light smoke, like Alder, Apple Wood or Cherry Wood.  I chose Alder.  They call for smoking the fish six to eight hours and so that is what I planned.

You can see the progress in the photos, and I will continue the post as the entire process unfolds.

Friday I purchased a digital meat thermometer from Cabella's and so I can get a temperature reading any time I want to.   You can see the thermometer in the photo of the smoker.  When the smoker is heated up with no cover on it the inside temperature was reading about 135 degrees.  When you put the cover over the smoker the temperature climbs up to about 165 degrees and was riding about 170 degrees when the smoke was being put on.

The smoke is applied by putting the Alder chips in the little smoke pan and they proceed to burn causing the smoke to permeate the fish or meat.  It take two pans of chips/smoke to complete the process.  Man, I sound like I know what I am doing!

The weekend is over and so is the smoking. I was able to smoke 24 Kokanee in two sessions. As this was happening I got to thinking about how I would manage all the smoked fish when I was finished with the project and so after a great deal of thought I went to Costco and bought a food saver.  Now i can package the fish and freeze them without the worries of freezer burn.

In the end I gave a bunch of the fish away.  I guess it will be good trading material for the future.  I will eat the fish, Linda won't, but it will be great to have some available to use for parties and gatherings as appetizers.  My ultimate plan will be to catch Salmon, Steelhead and Kokanee, smoke them and then keep our friends happy with the results.  That does mean I have to be able to catch the fish first, but that's another project.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Limited Out

As I passed Michale D's I hoped that the wind on the lake would be manageable.  The sun was shimmering bright and there was not a bit of wind, the lake was glass!  I picked up the phone and called Darren.  "Hey, what are you doing?  Wanna go fishing?"  He answered immediately and said that he would meet me as soon as he could get in town.

I put the boat in at Higgin's point and made my way back up to Booth's Park where I was to pick up Darren. He called when he reached Silver Beach. I had my line out and was making my way to the beach and caught my first fish. I figured I would get the first one in the boat before Darren got on board because last time he out fished me. 

After Darren arrived we fished from Booth's Park over into Bennett Bay and back.  We looped around the lake and kept busy the whole afternoon either catching fish or missing fish.  We had a great time fishing in beautiful weather, we limited out with 30 Kokanee.  This will probably be the last time we will fish for these fish, they are getting the hooked jaw, growing darker, and turning a bit red.  We'll have to hit them again next season, the good thing is that I have about 40 of them to smoke in our Little Chief.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Fishing Good, Catching Bad.

Linda had a three day weekend and I had a day coming for the weekend I spent on the ASNIC retreat so we drove down to Pine Bar to do a little fishing and mostly relaxing.  We camped in the BLM campground and had a relatively nice spot. We set up in the dark on Thursday night after we drove down. It was around 10 PM when we got to bed, we were both pooped.

Had to take a photo of the camper and Tom's drift boat.
Tom, Sarah and Mark arrived in the morning and set up their little trailer down in a spot overlooking the water.  When we arrived in the dark we tried to fit into that spot, but we couldn't get the camper leveled.  I walked down to the river and set up my planer boards started the quest for steelhead.

Relax, no fish were harmed that day.  It started off a bit rainy and then by the afternoon it had cleared off.  We cooked dinner and then walked down to the lower camp where we sat around the campfire and shared stories.

In the morning Linda took the dog and ran and I went down to the water and set up my two rods with plainer boards and divers.  The sun came out and I sat and fished.  I moved up and down the river selecting spots and not catching anything.  It was fun but would have been funner if I caught something.
Sarahs warming by the fire.

At about 3 pm I went back to the camper and we got things ready for dinner.  Our dinners for both nights were Dutch oven meals that I hadn't tried.  First night was a chicken corn tortilla casserole.  For a first time meal it turned out fantastic!  I highly recommend it and will give you the recipe if you request it.  The second meal was scalloped potatoes and weenies which was OK the first night, but was great as leftovers. 

On Saturday we fished the bank in the morning and then fished from Tom's drift boat in the afternoon.  We put in at Pine Bar and pulled off at American Bar.  The weather was beautiful but the fishing was not good. We didn't catch anything but had fun throwing flys and bobbers.

Kobi fell asleep sitting up.

Cooking in the fire pit.

Moon rise over the Lower Salmon.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Gotta Love Fall Camping.

Morning fire, one of Linda's favorite things.

Ear rubs, Kobi's favorite thing.

The family portrait.

Ear rubs again.

Hornets nest at Flat Creek.

Another nest near Teddy Creek,

Ever wonder why we camp?

Linda's Saturday morning breakfast.

Morning eye openers, coffee and tea.

Evening in the camper.

FIRE, I bring you FIRE!

Thought this was a cool picture.

My favorites!
Kobi ya got to love him.

Getting sleepy.

Dog eyes.