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How to Get the Best Results When Smoking Fish at Home

Last week, we discussed shopping tips for smoked fish. This week, we’ll be learning another valuable lesson; this time on how to get the best results when smoking fish at home.

For the benefit of those who missed last week’s article, smoked fish is a product of charcoal or firewood grilling. When fish is smoked, the moisture in it is removed and the flavour is heightened. This makes it not only an indispensable ingredient in Nigerian cooking but a tasty and addictive snack as well.

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Smoked fish vendors are available in almost all the local markets in the country. Most of us patronize them because their services give us stress free access to this flavourful ingredient. But smoking fish at home is actually easy. If you’ve considered trying it at home, the following tips will help you get the best results:

Use Fresh Fish

When it comes to smoking fish, fresh fish is your best option. By fresh, I mean one that is just out of water. If you smoke stale fish, it will affect the final outcome of your fish. I read somewhere that frozen fish is sometimes smoked. Well, necessity, as you know, is the mother of invention. But I doubt if the result will be as great as the fresh fish.

Fatty Fish are the Best

You can smoke any fresh fish but if you want the best result, go for fatty fish; they absorb more smoke flavour. Having said that, the best fish to smoke is catfish. However, in the absence of this fish, herring or mackerel can be used.

Go for Smaller Fish

Leave big things for a minute and pay attention. If you are new to fish smoking, go for small fish. It cooks faster. The bigger ones usually take a longer time to cook. The inexperienced may make the mistake of either bringing it out too soon or leaving it on the grill for too long with the result that the fish may either be half-smoked or burnt. What’s more, some usually burst open during grilling.

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Clean and Salt the Fish

Before smoking, remove the intestines and the gills. Rinse the fish thoroughly to get rid of the blood. Then, rub salt all over it. The salt is all the ingredient that the fish needs.

Fold the Fish

Folding brings out the beauty of the fish but we don’t fold fish simply because its fine. The main reason for folding fish before smoking is to give room for even smoking. It is also believed in some quarters that folding fish helps all the water content of the fish to come out while smoking.

Whatever be the case, a skewer is inserted in the mouth through the tail of the fish to fold it. This makes flipping easier.

Use Little Heat While Smoking

Remember that “smoking” is the operative word. Keep the fire small. Heat as small as 250F is enough to smoke your fish. It will keep your fish from burning too.

Now that you have this useful information, get to work. Be sure to share the results of your fish smoking adventure with us.



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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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