We are firm Craigslist devotées. In addition to buying our living room furniture, teak outdoor dining table and some of my most prized pieces of Bauer ware from it, we've managed to sell some of the crap…I mean…hard-to-part-with and probably valuable items that were stacked in our basement for way more money and with way less pain than having a garage sale.
brisket, ribs, pork belly and pernil for the last couple of years.
So with albacore season in full swing, it was time to dive into the deep end and smoke some fish. West Coast albacore makes a perfect candidate with its high fat content and meaty texture. Plus, as opposed to pork belly which takes a solid week to cure and a full day to smoke, a loin of fish takes less than an afternoon to produce a bounty of toothy, tender and totally mouth-watering smoky deliciousness.
If you're spending any time at all at the coast, or just want an excuse to make a day trip over there, stop in at the local fish processing plant and pick up a loin or two. Or heck, even buy the whole thing and have them cut it up for you. Then you can freeze a couple of loins and smoke the other two!
Smoked Albacore LoinAdapted from a Jan. '08 forum post on Sportfishermen.com by Andaman Andy
For the brine:
1 gal. water, room temperature
2 c. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. white pepper
2 albacore loins (3-4 lbs.)
For the brine, mix all ingredients until everything is dissolved. (Dave made about 1 1/2 batches of brine to cover all the fish.)
Cut the loins into 4" chunks for ease of submerging and later handling. Put the fish into a container large enough to allow the fish to be completely submerged but not piled on top of each other. (Dave used two Pyrex baking pans for two loins.)
Pour the mixture over the fish so it's completely submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
After brining rinse the fish quickly under cold water. Pat dry and place the fish on a lightly oiled wire rack elevated on a tray. (Dave mentioned that the forum post said to place the racks in front of a fan in a place where flies and pets can't get at it.) This is intended to allow a thin glaze ("pellicle") to develop; it's supposed to be a little sticky, and it helps the fish maintain moisture and allow smoke to adhere to the fish. We just put the tray into the refrigerator to wait for the pellicle.
Dave removed the fish from the refrigerator after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, but he felt that may have been a little early.
Put the fish onto the cleaned and well-oiled grate of a smoker at 180-200 degrees. The fish is done when you can flake it easily with a fork and the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. (Ours took about 1 1/2-2 hours to be done.)