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Smoking steelhead salmon- fire problems

bookswbooksw Posts: 212
edited October 2012 in EggHead Forum
I came back from Eggtoberfest excited to start a bunch of new cooks- today I planned three (smoked fish, then crank up the heat and cook stuffed meatballs and lamb chops).  I am starting with a smoked steelhead and I cleaned out my egg first to be sure I could have good air flow, loaded it up with various sizes of lump in layers alternating with soaked alder chips, and lit it with fire starters.  My problem is that I am trying to get to a dome temp of just under 200 and no matter what I do it seems I can only find two temps: 250 and "fire out"

I know my gasket is essentially blown and I am guessing that is the problem- any ideas?  Thanks!!
Charleston, SC

Comments

  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,066
    Might be your thermo but it definitely isn't the gasket. I assume it is clean, as in not clogged.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • bookswbooksw Posts: 212
    You mean the holes under the lump?  I cleaned it out with a shop vac and then reloaded the coals starting with new big pieces on the bottom to keep air flowing.

    Could be my thermo- I have another one.  I will check.  Thanks!
    Charleston, SC
  • bookswbooksw Posts: 212
    I have been used to guaging by dome temp which is different from the temp at the grate which is what I am measuring now.  I have the daisy wheel open a tiny hair and the bottom vent opened as little as possible and my grate temp is now 387...
    Charleston, SC
  • DocWonmugDocWonmug Posts: 225
    A firm grasp of the obvious is once the temp is high, it takes forever to get it back lower.
    LBGE
  • bookswbooksw Posts: 212
    That is true.  I never really got the dome hot- it never was hotter than 250.  Now it is 225 and the temp at the grate is 361.  My fish is done although I would love to leave it in the smoke longer I think I would rather have fish with a good texture and not enough smoke as compared to overdone fish with good smoke...
    Charleston, SC
  • bookswbooksw Posts: 212
    DocWonmug said:

    A firm grasp of the obvious is once the temp is high, it takes forever to get it back lower.

    I took your advice to heart and, after thinking about it for about 10 days, I am noe trying a solution that seems to be working:

    This evening I lit the coals with one fire starter in the center. As soon as I was sure a few coals were lit, I closed the lid and shut the bottom vent to 1 inch and the daisy wheel to half open. I let that sit for 15 minutes, I checked it and the coals were glowing red right in the center. I sprinkled on some wood chips, added the grate, plopped my steelhead on it and closed the lid. It's been smoking for 30 minutes at about 150!!! If I can do this again, might need to try another overnight brisket...
    ( my holy grail)
    Charleston, SC
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 10,863
    This is a little off topic on the temp issue, but if you want to get some good smokey fish, try brining it first, then let it air dry where a protein film will form on the surface of the fish called a pellicle.  The pellicle soaks up smoke, and the brining will keep your filet juicy and help the thin parts from drying out. 
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    No City.

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 10,863
    I've been using this technique on my steelhead cooks on the egg and it's resulted in some of the best fish I've ever had.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    No City.

  • bookswbooksw Posts: 212
    What is your brine solution? Do you use white sugar or brown? Thanks!
    Charleston, SC
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 10,863
    225 g salt, 125 g sugar, 1 gallon water. 

    I use 1/2 gallon water, boil with whatever spices, if any, you want. Lemon, onion, lime, whatever.  Then I add the other half gallon water, sometimes with ice and let the brine cool before adding the food.

    You can use any kind of sugar.  It's not that important.

    After brining, rinse all the brine off.  If you forget and brine too long, you can reduce the salt by soaking in fresh water.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    No City.

  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 4,741

    A couple of observations to confirm the above-brining and then using forced cool air (fan) flow to create the pellicle is key to a great smoked fish.  And booksw solved the fire issue with lighting a small amount of lump and catching temp on the way up.  With a little monitoring you can hold around 200*F or slightly less w/o a controller.

    Gonna smoke (pecan wood) jalapenos for the yearly batch of chipotles this Sunday and hope to hold around 180-200*F for around 12-14 hrs-lots of adult beverages to supervise that adventure.

    Louisville
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