How to Smoke Seafood
Smoking seafood is a great way to impart delicious flavor and elevation to any dish or meal. Whether you’re a seasoned smoker or novice, this guide will keep you on the right path to great tasting smoked seafood.
Well go through the basics; cold smoking vs. hot smoking, tips on brining, cooking times and the best Cameron’s Seafood products to use! A little seafood smoking 101 ed session, all to get those tummies grumbling and mouths watering.
Hot Smoke vs. Cold Smoke
Cold smoking and hot smoking are just terms used to determine how close to the heat source you’re smoking your seafood. Cold smoking is used when you just want to flavor the seafood with smoke while hot smoking slowly cooks the ingredients while also infusing flavoring. Hot smoking occurs when the smokers temperature is above 150°F with an ideal temperature around 200°-250°F. Cold smoking is typically kept under 100°F and the food is smoked in a separate chamber, away from the heat source, to keep it from cooking.
The tips below will all be for hot smoking your seafood, the easiest and most successful smoking method. Even though some of the ingredients are already cooked to perfection by the fine folks at Cameron’s Seafood, the smoking will replace the reheating steps and the end product will have a nice robust flavor…soooo good.
Best Brine Recipe…
Brining is a technique used to give seafood (or any protein for that matter) flavor and moisture. This way you’re bound to have a great tasting, juicy end product without having to worry about rubs or marinades. Unlike other proteins, seafood only needs to brine for a short amount of time, about an hour, to have the same effects of brining pork, poultry or beef. This is mainly because seafood is not as fatty or dense as these other proteins and the brine soaks in much faster.
This seafood brine recipe will brine about 3lbs. of seafood.
Best seafood brine
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- Bring water and ingredients to a simmer over medium heat. Stir and continue to simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and cool completely before adding your seafood.
- Place seafood in a plastic zipper bag or deep casserole dish (enough so that the seafood is completely submerged), cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove from the brine, rinse with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
How to smoke your seafood…
Depending on your smoker (charcoal, gas or electric) will strongly influence how you start your smoking process. I would recommend you check the manufacturer’s guides and instructions on how to set up and get started.
Typically, you start with soaked wood chips (soaked in water overnight). I love lighter woods like cherry or apple for smoking seafood. It’s not a harsh smoke and infuses a nice light smoky flavor that wont overpower the natural flavor of the fish. I also prefer starting my smoker with natural charcoal chunks (not treated with chemicals or fast-lighting/quick starting junk) getting that up to my preferred temperature and then adding in my soaked wood chips.
The best seafood to use are fattier fish fillets, like salmon, tuna or trout. These fillets can withstand the smoking abuse and end up with the best flavor. They’re also the most popular smoked fish for recipes…think smoked salmon bagels, smoked trout salad or smoked tuna sandwiches….wicked tasty.
Alternatively, I absolutely love smoking shrimp, clams, crab legs and lobster. These crustaceans and shellfish buddies smoke very well and make for some extremely delicious recipes…think smoked clam chowder, smoked shrimp cocktails or smoky lobster rolls…my mouth is watering already! Even just the slight smoke on the crab legs make for a much more inventive (and mega yum) crab pickin’.
Below are the time tables for smoking seafood. As always, make sure if any of the products are shipped frozen that they are thoroughly thawed before brining and smoking. Plus keep a digital thermometer handy to check the internal temperature throughout the cooking process. Raw seafood should be cooked to 145°F.
Shrimp 200°F-225°F for 15-25 minutes
Clams 200°F-225°F for 30 minutes
Crab Legs 200°F-225°F for 20-30 minutes
Whole Lobster 200°F-225°F for 30 minutes
Lastly be sure to let your seafood rest before serving, just briefly, about 2-3 minutes. So that way any natural juices absorb back into the flesh instead of gushing out if slicing or flaking.
Buy Seafood Online
You can buy all of the delicious seafood listed in this article from our online store. All of Cameron’s Seafood comes straight from the sea to your door with guaranteed freshness.
Show us how you smoke Cameron’s Seafood. Whether you follow these smoking tips or have one of your own that you would like to share-we’d love to hear from you. Post your own smoked Cameron’s Seafood dish on Instagram and tag us @cameronsseafoodonline. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter, we look forward seeing your creations.
About the author
Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron's Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.