How To: Homemade Stove-Top Smoker
Last summer, my mom and I attended a fish cooking class at Hubbell & Hudson. We learned how to make fish in several different ways, but one of the methods stood out to me. Rather than grilling a piece of salmon, we smoked an entire salmon on the stove. This was the most tender and flavorful fish I have ever eaten.
Naturally, my mom and I decided to try to make our own stove-top smoker at home, and successfully re-created that delicious salmon for Easter dinner. Not only did everyone love the salmon and get up for seconds, but my dog couldn't stop staring at it on the counter. You would think she was a cat from her love for all things fish.
Smoking fish on top of a stove can be a little more complicated than you initially expect, but practice definitely makes perfect.
First, you should prepare the salmon or your choice of fish by soaking it entirely in a marinade overnight, or for at least four hours. You can make it sweet with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, or make it savory with garlic, cayenne pepper and chile sauce. While you marinate the fish, soak the wood chips as well.
Soak the wood chips for several hours in either water or a flavored liquid like apple juice or wine. It all depends on how much flavor you want and what kind of flavor you want the fish to have after it's smoked. I recommend soaking the wood chips the night before.
To create the stove-top smoker setup, use a metal hotel pan, or if you don't have one of those, a large lasagna-size disposable aluminum pan works as well. The point is to have a large pan where your wood chips will go so you can flavor the fish as it smokes.
Line the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then place the wood chips on top.
After you have placed the wood chips into the hotel pan, loosely place foil over them to serve as the drip pan, and place a grate on top -- this is what you will place the fish on to smoke.
To start smoking the fish, you will place it on the grate and then place the pan over the heat source, and the moment you see smoke coming from the chips, tightly cover the whole smoker with aluminum foil and let it smoke for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, take the smoker off the heat and resist the urge to peak at the fish; you need to let the smoker do all of the work, so do not open the aluminum foil for another ten minutes. This will finish the smoking process.
You can serve the fish immediately, or let it sit at room temperature, then serve; it's up to your taste preference. You will have a smokey, tender and flaky fish that can be served as an appetizer or as the main protein in a meal.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.