Cold-smoked trout

Cold-smoked trout

A Year of Practiculture
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

I’ve not met many people who don’t love cold-smoked trout or salmon. I know they’re out there, but I’ve yet to meet them. Cold-smoked salmon was something I loved buying from the supermarket and using in salads, breakfasts or simply throwing in my gob whole. Cold-smoked trout is even better, but was always harder to find. I’ve been hot-smoking trout for many years now and I still love to do it, especially in summer after a successful fish. Cold-smoking had been a bit of a mystery to me, until I built myself a large smokehouse. I cut down a heap of weed pine trees and built a little log cabin that would serve a few purposes: smokehouse, kids’ cubby and somewhere to camp out, albeit rather smoky at times. I designed it as a cold-smoking facility, with smoke piped in from a smoke generator (44 gallon drum) at a distance that would allow the smoke to cool before touching the meat, cheese, chillies or vegetables. The difference compared to hot-smoking is that meat isn’t actually cooked by the smoking process as it’s already cured. Instead, the smoke acts as a flavour enhancement and extends the use-by date of the food. Smoke has curative powers of its own, and has been used by many cultures around the world for centuries.

I tried cold-smoking trout a few times in the new cold smokehouse with terrible results. I was so distracted by getting the amount of smoke right that I always forgot to cure the fish and the end product would just be dry and smoky-flavoured, but smoky-flavoured like tongue-kissing a trout with a pack-a-day smoking habit. I went back to the drawing board and took time to brine the fish and allow it to dry and finally for it to form this special gooey layer called the pellicle.

This was the missing step that made all the difference. And once I incorporated that crucial step, my trout ended up magnificent!

Firing up the smoker returns in autumn. In summer it’s out of the question, due to the risk of starting a grassfire in the field. In late spring I’ve been known to smoke a lot and bag and tag for the coming summer, when the smokehouse is banned.

These instructions are for one fish, but practically speaking I tend to wait until I have at least five or ten to fire up the large smokehouse. Oh, and like everything in this book, this is a guide only. You can add heaps of different spices if you like.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 whole trout, butterfly filleted


  1. Sprinkle the salt and sugar evenly over both sides of the trout. Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Rinse the trout thoroughly under cold water, then pat dry with paper towel. Leave on a wire rack in the fridge (uncovered) to dry overnight. This is the crucial step, as it will form the pellicle, the sticky skin to which the smoke will adhere.
  3. Fire up the smokehouse and hang the fish inside. Keep the fire stoked and smoking for a minimum of 10 hours. The temperature of a cold smoke should really be no higher than about 50°C – the idea is to allow the smoke to cool before it reaches the meat, so it won’t cook it but simply smoke it.


  • Also use this process for freshwater eel.
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