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Course: Mains
Keyword: Brined and Smoked Smelts, Gluten-Free, Healthy, Seafood, Smoker, Summer

Brined and Smoked Smelts

ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 15 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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  • 24 smelts, cleaned with head and tails left on and other fins removed
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 pound ice

Specialized Hardware

Electric kettle
ACTIVE TIME: 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 15 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • Rinse the smelts in cool running water. Set aside.
  • Place all of the remaining ingredients, except the ice, into an electric kettle. Bring to a boil. Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cooled. Transfer the liquid to a 1-gallon resealable bag along with the smelts. Seal and place in a container so that all of the fish are covered by the brine. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Remove the smelts from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Place the smelts onto a paper towel-lined half-sheet pan, layering with paper towels if they won't fit in one layer. Allow to dry in the refrigerator overnight.
  • The next day, place the smelts onto racks, belly-side down, separating them by at least 1/4 inch and place into a smoker. Turn the smoker on so that it maintains a temperature of 150 to 160ºF. Adjust heat, as needed, and cook for approximately 3 hours or until desired level of doneness.
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