In honor of Retch and his INCREDiBLE smoker, I decided to get some kings and smoke 'em up this past weekend.
I've tried many recipes, tips, ingredients over the years in my quest for a killer spread. About 3 years ago, I finally narrowed down the ingredients/amounts, methods and technique to get to this recipe.
Here it is:
Start with 2# smoked fish-post smoked weight (my favorite is Spanish Mack, Followed by AJ and then Kingfish (king mack)--oily fish work really well in this recipe)
2 clove garlic finely chopped (LARGE cloves)
1.5 cup of mayo (any of the light or fat free versions just aren't the same)
2 tbsp sweet relish (I make my own)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp finely chopped fresh onion (I prefer vidalia)
2 tsp finely chopped celery
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp Tobasco Sauce
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
Start with your pile of fish, deboned, deskinned. Some people insist on brining before smoking. Some like rum, salt, sugar, spices etc, all kinds of brines. I have tried many and just doesn't work out for me. I prefer to leave my fish out for a couple hours exposed to just the air (the meat will get sort of an slight dryish, opaque 'glaze' look to it.
Into the smoker. I prefer a mix of Cherry and Hickory. I'll even throw in some oak on occasion, I really like the hearty smoke flavor. Usually I am smoking it around 200-225ish. Takes a couple hours. Here is where I differ a bit on some....I like to "over-smoke" it. I like the outer layer of the fish to get heavily darkened and have a firmness to it. Almost like jerky but not quite that tough:
The inside still stays white and flaky but its def not real moist...at all. Overall time seems to vary, its just over the years I've gotten to where I know when its at the point I like it.
Here is the reason. I don't want my dip to turn fully into tuna fish when I mix it. I wan't the pastey texture of tuna fish, but I like the firmness the outer meat offers my dip (sort of like crab salad). So when I spread it onto my cracker (Saltines) I have the smoothness of the white meat, but hearty bits of smoked goodness mixed in with it! I use a food processor instead of flaking with a fork. Takes a couple bumps of the button and done:
Now add all the other ingredients (I wing this often. Somedays I want more garlic, more celery, more cayenne...u get the idea), mix, chill in the fridge for a couple hours (it actually gets better over night!), serve with Tobasco, Saltine and a margarita......