How to Smoke Mullet Fish

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While sometimes used as bait, mullet make an excellent choice for smoking or frying.
While sometimes used as bait, mullet make an excellent choice for smoking or frying. (Image: DarylGlass/iStock/Getty Images)

The oily texture and strong flavor of mullet make it a good choice for smoking. This indirect cooking method imparts a smoky flavor to the fish and takes several hours to complete. You can smoke mullet yourself in a specially designed smoker or in a charcoal grill with a lid; it makes a tasty main dish or an appetizer.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot
  • Kosher salt
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Knife
  • Vegetable oil
  • Spice rub
  • Pepper, paprika, herbs and spices (optional)
  • Smoker or charcoal grill
  • Wood chips
  • Aluminum foil
  • Smoker box (optional)
  • Small aluminum pan

Preparation

Mix 1 cup of kosher or sea salt per 1 gallon of water in a large pot. Add sprigs of fresh herbs, a few splashes of lemon juice and/or whole cloves to taste.

Cut off the fish heads at the gills, then butterfly the fish by cutting them down the back to the tail. Clean the guts, and optionally remove the backbone for more even smoking.

Rinse the fish in cool running water.

Marinate the mullet in the saltwater brine for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The salty solution imparts flavor to the fish and keeps it from getting soft during the smoking process.

Remove the fish from the brine solution and rinse them with cold water.

Dry the mullet, skin side down, overnight in the refrigerator to form a pellicle of tacky skin on the surface, which helps prevent them from drying out while smoking.

Rub the dry fish with vegetable oil and your favorite spice rub or some pepper, paprika and other spices for added flavor.

Smoking Mullet in a Smoker

Soak wood chips overnight in water. Use the chips of your choice, such as hickory, apple wood or mesquite.

Drain and place the soaked chips in your smoker, either on a rack or in a smoker box above your heat source.

Add water to your smoker to keep the fish moist.

Lay the fish in a single layer, skin side down, on a mesh rack.

Set the temperature to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smoke for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Smoking Mullet in a Charcoal Grill

Soak wood chips overnight in water. Use the chips of your choice such as hickory, apple wood or mesquite.

Place hot coals on one side of your grill.

Pour the water into a small aluminum pan. Place it on the other side of your coals to keep the fish moist while smoking.

Drain and wrap the wood chips in aluminum foil and poke several holes in the packet of foil to produce smoke.

Place the foil-wrapped wood chips over the hot coals.

Put the mullet in a single layer, skin-side-down, on the side of the grill that is away from the coals.

Close the grill and vent it slightly.

Smoke for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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