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Smoke flavor on first cook

edited 11:50PM in EggHead Forum
I just completed my first cook on my new XL egg in preparation for a party we're hosting on Saturday. I did a whole trout and a king salmon fillet.

After reading all about the egg (and tasting the results from a friend's), I had extremely high expectations for the results. Now the fish was as moist as I had expected, which was great. However, it was infused with a rather acrid smoke flavor that I didn't expect. I didn't add any wood chips, just the charcoal.

One thing I'm wondering is if it's because of all the fresh charcoal. In fact, because it's an XL egg and I was cooking at only 350-400 degrees for an hour or so from first light to extinguish, most of the charcoal didn't even start to burn. Does the charcoal give off more smoke when it's first catching? Could that be the issue?

I don't know that the smokiness would have been an issue with other foods; it's just that fish is so subtle, the smoke (and it wasn't good smoke like alder, but more like a cross between campfire and cigarette) detracted from the flavor.

Does anybody have any advice for me? Is that just part of life cooking with the egg? Should I plan on using wood chips to mask the underlying charcoal smoke? Will it get better once more of the charcoal has burned?

Any advice would help. I'm trying to figure out what to cook tomorrow.




  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,780
    You can let the fire burn for a while before adding the food to get rid of any "ignition" smoke flavors. Also, if you find the smoke flavor of the charcoal too strong, you might try Cowboy charcoal, which is thought to be less smokey. Good luck!
    The Naked Whiz
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,874
    after lighting the egg watch the smoke coming from the egg, once it disapears then put your fish on, anysooner and you will get that acrid taste every time
  • DynaGreaseballDynaGreaseball Posts: 1,409
    I was letting the fire burn for about 1/2 hour after it got up to temperature and before I put any food on, to "eliminate" the unwanted tastes of new lump, which worked fine for me. By mistake, I recently let it go for about an hour before I put the food on. (left it unattended while I ran to the store--not a good idea). Anyway that night, my wife commented, for the first time, that the steaks didn't have "that bitter smokey taste" that I usually cook with. I had no wood in the coals that night either. Turns out her taste buds are far more sensitive than mine. Now I have learned to make sure the coals get well burnt off before starting my cooks.

    Like the Whiz says, some brands give off more of that taste than others. I've been having good luck with BGE brand (expensive) and Royal Oak (Cheap at Walmart). Hope that helps.

    Let us know.
  • Angie2BAngie2B Posts: 543
    I've started letting mine burn longer with better results too.
  • TomM24TomM24 Posts: 1,364
    Somebody on the board says to wait 10 minutes after the smoke has cleared to start cooking. It works for me. I find that used lump also seems to impart less taste as long as there isn't any grease in it from a prior cook.
  • FlaMikeFlaMike Posts: 648
    I usually let it burn for about an hour before adding the food. Burns up the nasties pretty good.
    Then there's the issue of adding wood chunks. Maybe we won't go there today.
  • BBQ1BBQ1 Posts: 7
    What did you use to start the fire? No petroleum based starters I hope. :blush: :blush: :blush:
  • Thanks for all your replies. I was using fire-starter squares, and I put two small (1x1) squares in the egg, but even after 60-90 minutes of cooking, only about 1/3 of the charcoal had any ask on it. I guess this is one of the downsides to the XL, but what do people recommend for getting all the charcoal to the point where it's not smoky without letting it burn for hours?

  • SWOkla-JerrySWOkla-Jerry Posts: 640
    I also have an XL. Fill with lump about half. I use an electric starter under the lump. After 10 mins, I pull the element, let the coals go for another 10 mins, then stir up what is lit and then pour some more lump, filling to top of fire box, if I am doing an overnite or long slo & low. I then shut lid and let temp get up to within 30 degrees, then adjust my top & lower vents. This seems to work for me. I just pulled a 13# brisket after cooking overnite for 16 hrs, point is back on wrapped in foil for burnt ends.
  • Thanks for all the responses. Getting all the charcoal to ignite before closing down the vents seems to have taken care of my problems. Made some steak, fish and kabobs on Saturday, and all were excellent (especially the Porterhouses cooked according to the "TRex" method). Now on to pizza!

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