Brined and Smoked Smelts

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 15 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 12 hr
  • Cook: 3 hr
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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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


  1. Rinse the smelts 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 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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