Ever since I was a little kid, I have heard anglers talking about smoking bluefish. I've eaten smoked bluefish before and I've always enjoyed it.
However, it was not until the summer of 2020 that I finally tried smoking bluefish on my own. I'm happy to report that the results were great!
Smoked bluefish has now become one of my favorite locally available seafood items. In this report, I'd like to share with you what I've learned so far about smoking bluefish and smoked bluefish recipes.
Step #1: Catch The Bluefish
On the evening of September 5th 2020, my wife Lauren and I headed out into Cape Cod Bay on our little 12 foot aluminum boat. It was a beautiful evening with a beautiful sunset and very light winds.
At around 5pm Lauren and I saw birds working on the horizon, which is a surefire sign of feeding bass and bluefish.
In the drone photo below, you can actually see the bass (darker brown in coloration) and the bluefish (silvery/blue in coloration).
I carefully motored our little boat to the edge of the feeding frenzy. I made sure to not drive the boat into the feeding frenzy, as that would spook the fish and ruin the opportunity.
I was using a white 9inch Super Snax soft plastic, which is a great lure for striped bass. I made a cast towards the action and twitched the lure across the surface using a medium speed retrieve, when suddenly a bluefish exploded on the lure.
Step #2: Prepare The Bluefish For Smoking
At my house, filleting bluefish is always an exciting time. Our cat Izzy and dog Rosie absolutely love eating bluefish scraps. You can see Rosie what I mean in the photo below.
Plus the tradition of filleting and eating fish you caught yourself is always satisfying. Sure it can be a lot of work, but it's the type of work people have been doing for thousands of years.
For me, filleting fish is like a breath of fresh air, especially compared to the blogging, editing fishing videos, email answering, and other work I do on the computer.
While I was filleting, Lauren began mixing the brine for the bluefish. Included in the brine was:
*We learned about this bluefish brine from an article published on the Elevated Wild blog. You can click here to view their smoked bluefish recipe.
Lauren brought the brine to a simmer on the stove top, stirring so as to dissolve all the ingredients together. The brine then went into the refrigerator to cool for about one hour.
Once the brine had cooled off, we arranged the bluefish fillets on a pan and poured over the brine.
With the fillets fully submerged, the pan went into the refrigerator where it stayed to soak for the next 6 hours. I would not recommend soaking it for any longer or else the filets might become too salty.
After six hours we removed the fillets from the brine and put them on an oven sheet with a cookie rack to dry. We let the bluefish fillets dry in the refrigerator like this for the next 24 hours.
Step #3: Smoking The Bluefish
The next day I assembled my Cuisinart Smoker and got it ready for smoking. I added charcoal and dry wood chips to the bottom fo the smoker, and then placed a pan of water above the charcoal and chips.
While smoking, the water will evaporate into the bluefish fillets, preventing the bluefish from drying out. This video from YouTube does a good job of demonstrating how to setup the smoker.
I heated the smoker to around 200 degrees F, took the bluefish fillets and placed them onto the grates at the top of the smoker.
There they stayed for the next 8 hours. I checked on the bluefish periodically and added more charcoal, chips and water as required.
After 8 hours of smoking, the edges of the bluefish were blackened and the fillet appeared to be cooked all the way through.
I gave it a quick taste test and it was delicious!
Step #4: Smoked Bluefish Pâté Recipe
I thought that the smoked bluefish tasted similar to a holiday ham. The briny saltiness mixed with the smokey flavor was delicious, and I could of eaten all the fillets "as is" in no time at all.
However, Lauren and I wanted to save at least some of the bluefish so we could try making smoked bluefish pâté for the very first time. We started by tearing the bluefish into shreds.
To make the smoked bluefish spread, we used the following ingredient list, which was adapted from this recipe from Food & Wine Magazine:
Lauren started by placing the shredded bluefish and cream cheese into a food processor.
She used the processor sparingly, and slightly chopped and mixed the bluefish and cream cheese together.
Next she added in the red onion, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, hot sauce, minced chives and cilantro.
After a very light and quick blend all the ingredients came together to form a delicious smoked bluefish pâté.
Bluefish Recipes Cook Book
As I begin to wrap up this blog post, I wanted to let you know we have a bluefish digital cook book here on MFCC. The cook book contains a bunch of awesome recipes contributed by members of this website.
If you are a member of My Fishing Cape Cod, then you can download the bluefish recipes cook book right now by clicking the blue "Download" button below!
As mentioned above, all the bluefish recipes in this cook book were contributed by members of My Fishing Cape Cod.
Here is a list of some of the bluefish recipes included in the cook book:
If you are a member of My Fishing Cape Cod, then you can download the cook book right now by clicking here.
In my opinion, smoked bluefish is absolutely delicious, and homemade smoked bluefish pâté has now become one of my favorite seafood dishes.
I definitely recommend giving smoked bluefish a try, especially if you don't usually enjoy eating bluefish. The smoky flavor of smoked bluefish is much, much different than the oily bluefish fillet most people are used to.
Do you enjoy smoking bluefish? What tips and words advice do you have to share? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.
I’m fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I’ve been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!