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Smoked Whole Fish with Pickled Limes

Time to shake things up! Both the fish and pickled limes in this recipe come with very diverse, unique flavors, which intertwine for a perfect summertime dish. 
Try it out on your next fresh catch!

- Ingredients -

Pickled Limes
Makes 2 quarts
8 limes, cut into 6 slices
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons cumin seed
5 garlic cloves, chopped
5 one-inch slivers ginger
(use a potato peeler to remove the skin, then use it to make your slivers)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon paprika
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
¾ cup brown sugar

Smoked Fish
We used a 3 lb Lake Erie White Perch — This recipe could easily work for walleye, bass, trout and other similar fresh water fish
Brine, per lb. of fish
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

- Tools -

Pickled Limes
Weston Professional Advantage Vacuum Sealer + Canister
or Canning Kit

Smoked Fish
Weston Game Processing Knife Set (fillet knife & scissors, for gutting & kiting)
Weston Vacuum Sealer + Canister or Bag
Weston Smoker
wood chips (we use Alder, you could use any, really, but Alder is best for fish)

First, prepare your limes. It will take about a week before they're ready to serve.

Pickled Limes (Lime Pickle)

Sprinkle the limes with the salt, then place them into your Vacuum Sealer Canister, seal them, and set them in direct sunlight for 2-4 days.

The Weston Pro Advantage Sealer with a Canister full of salted limes

In a large saucepan, toast your mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seed in the olive oil over high heat for 30 seconds, or until the seeds pop.

Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper, and paprika. Toss the limes in and coat them well. Bring down to low heat.

Bring the water, vinegar, and brown sugar to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then add the lime mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour into a Vacuum Sealer Canister and allow to cool. Once cooled, use the Vacuum Sealer marinate function to marinate the limes for 10 minutes. Keep the canister sealed. Leave the limes to pickle for at least a day. After they've turned a darker, faded green, they're ready to eat.

Pickled Limes, the finished product

Whole Smoked Fish

You can choose to remove the scales with a butter knife or the back of your fillet knife — or not. We did not remove the scales, however, you do run the risk of ending up with inedible scales in your fish. So if you're as daring as we are, just be sure to rinse the fish especially well and inspect for scales.

Butterfly (or "kite") the fish with your Knife Set. Remove the fins, slice the fish from tail to head and remove the guts, then remove the bones inside, gills, and finally: the head (you could keep the head on). Then spread the fish flat, skin side down. Hank Shaw has an excellent how-to on butterflying fish. If you need a how-to on the gutting and scaling part, this video with Darina Allen is also very helpful.

Butterflied, or kited Perch

Once the fish is butterflied, sprinkle it with the salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Rub the outside of the fish with this brine mixture as well. Close the fish up, place it into a Vacuum Sealer Bag (or Canister) and seal. Allow to brine in the refrigerator 12-24 hours.

Using the Weston Pro 3000 to pull the brine through the fibers of the fish (makes for a quick brine time)

Prepare your Smoker by filling the water bowl, preheating to 175-200°, and soaking your wood chips for 30 minutes.

Remove the fish from the bag, then rinse thoroughly under cold water for five minutes. Once pre-heated, fill the smoker box with soaked chips. Then, place the fish — fully open, skin side down — on a smoker rack. Smoke for 1-3 hours (fish cooking times vary dramatically — just be sure to check on it every half hour), until the fish starts to peel from the skin on its own.

The before and after of smoking the perch

Tip: To keep the smoker temperature down on a hot day, while still keeping some smoke in the cabinet, open the top damper completely and keep the side dampers half closed. Keep the fish on the lowest rack you can.

Once smoked, serve the fish immediately, hot, with the lime pickle on top. Use your fork to smash the lime "relish" over the fish when you take a bite. And yes, the peels are edible.

Sample Product Label
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