- 24 smelts, cleaned with head and tails left on and other fins removed
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 to 3 sprigs fresh dill
- 1 pound ice
Rinse the smelts in cool running water. Set aside.
Place all of the remaining ingredients, except the ice, into the electric kettle. Bring to a boil. Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cooled. Transfer the liquid to a 1-gallon resealable bag along with the smelts. Seal and place in a container so that all of the fish are in the brine. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Remove the smelts from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Place the smelts onto a paper towel-lined sheet pan, layering with paper towels in between if they won't fit in 1 layer. Allow to dry in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, place the smelts onto racks, belly side down, separating them by at least 1/4-inch and place into a smoker. Turn the smoker on so that it maintains a temperature of 150 to 160 degrees F. Adjust heat, as needed, and cook for approximately 3 hours or until desired level of doneness.