A summer day fishing in New England can result in more blues than anyone can (or should eat at once). Fresh blues do not freeze well, but once smoked they can be kept quite a while. The smoking process is a little time consuming, but well worth it.
Step 1: What You Need.
A mess of bluefish, filleted.
For the brine:
Bay leaves, dried,
A smoker. (I used a Weber Smokey Mountain, which seems to work well for me).
That's about it.
Step 2: Get Yourself Some Bluefish!
Ok. Lets face it, this is definitely the most fun step. Blues are aggressive fighters that will hit about anything. These were mostly caught by my kids aged 7 & 9.
Step 3: Brine Your Fillets
The fillets were then brined using a variation of this recipe. We ended up with 10.75 lbs of fillets. I used:
2 quarts water,
1/2 c raw sugar,
1/2 c kosher salt,
1/2 c soy sauce,
8 crushed bay leaves,
2 T black peppercorns,
I mixed this all up and put over the fillets in ziplock bags.
This was then placed in the fridge for about 24 hours.
Step 4: Dry It Out
When ready to smoke, I drained the brine off the fillets. I didn't rinse them, but you can.
I then put the fillets on racks to dry. As I was running a little late, I put a fan on for a couple hours to expedite things.
Drying the fish at this stage forms a pellicle which helps the smoke adhere and makes a prettier end product.
Step 5: Smoke Up!
I let the fillets dry for a couple hours while I got the smoker up to the right temp.
Ideally you want to smoke for an hour at 200F then 1-2 more hours at 150F. This should get you to an internal temp of 160 for 30 min to kill the nasties.
I added a handful of hickory chips at the beginning, although apple wood would be food as well.
Step 6: Have a Brew While Smoker Works Its Magic.
Self explanatory step.
Step 7: Finish Up
I left the fish in the smoker for a total of about 5 hours. This is how they looked after.
I let them cool for a couple hours, then froze most of them
After that, enjoy!