Smoking fish adds a different flavor dimension than frying, baking or even grilling by using mild hardwood smoke as a natural seasoning and preservative. Though most commonly performed with charcoal and wood burning grills and grill-smoker combinations, gas grills are also up to the task of producing tasty smoked fish main courses. Patiently going through the motions of brining the fish of choice before the cooking process, then preparing a special foil pouch for the smoking helps gas grills mimic the wood-burning flavor tones typically associated with charcoal grilling.
Things You'll Need
For the brine process:
Large plastic bowl or bucket
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup salt
1 gallon water
Four to six fillets of fish of your choice
For the smoking process:
5 pounds alder, cherry or apple wood chips (or a blend of the three)
3 feet heavy duty aluminum foil
Large plastic bowl
Multiple-burner gas grill
Brining the fish
Pour one gallon of cold water into a large plastic bowl or a clean plastic pail or bucket.
Stir in the salt and sugar vigorously until all granules dissolve in the water.
Place the fish into the solution and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a sealed plastic lid.
Refrigerate the solution overnight prior to smoking.
The Smoking Process
Dump the wood chips into large plastic bowl or pail and soak with water for at least an hour prior to cooking time.
Open the grill lid, light all grill burners, set them to high and close the lid, allowing the grill to heat to about 400 degrees.
Place two handfuls of the soaked wood chips in the center of the foil sheet and fold the edges of the foil around the chips, fashioning a square pouch about five inches long on each end.
Poke several holes in both sides of the foil pouch to ventilate. These holes allow the smoke to escape and flavor the food.
Open the grill lid, lift the grill grate with long-handled pliers and place the foil pouch directly atop the burner on the far right side of the grill.
Turn off all burners except the one below the foil pouch. Place the fish on the grate atop the unlit burners and close the grill lid.
Adjust the grilling chamber temperature to 300 degrees after the pouch begins smoking.
Check every 30 minutes to ensure smoke continues rising from the pouch. If not, fashion a new pouch with fresh wet wood chips and replace as necessary.
Remove the fish after between two and three hours on the grill, depending on type and thickness.
Using vegetable oil grilling spray or drawing a paper towel soaked in olive oil over the grill grate prior to adding fish can prevent sticking and add attractive grill marks.
Always use wet wood chips, which produce more smoke and burn longer than dry ones.
Smoked fish calls for milder hardwood chips, which include apple, cherry, or alder or most any of the fruit-bearing tree woods.
Don't skip the brine process. The salt and sugar form a protective barrier around the fish to keep it moist during the long smoking process.
Never light a gas grill with the lid closed as gas fumes can build up and explode upon ignition.
Always use heat-resistant gloves and/or long-handled pliers when handling hot grill lids and grates. Use long-handled spatulas when moving or removing fish from the grill.