Brined and Smoked Smelt

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 50 min
  • Prep: 20 min
  • Inactive: 30 min
  • Cook: 3 hr
  • Yield: 4 servings
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24 smelt, cleaned with head and tails left on

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


  1. Rinse the smelt in cool running water. Set aside.
  2. 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 ziptop bag along with the smelt. 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.
  3. Remove the smelt from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Place them onto a paper towel lined sheet pan, layering with paper towels in between if they won't fit in one layer. Allow to dry in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. The next day, place the smelt 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.
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