BFT Smoking Fail - old style, poor results...

matt fe2o3

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Dec 23, 2020
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Matt
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Well today was not an epic but a rather humbling fail. Perhaps some of you folks can chime in on where I went wrong, and some better ideas.

Decided to smoke some Frozen BFT collars and smaller towards the tail fillets today. Basically treated the process the same as I do Salmon and that was likely my first mistake. Chucks were roughly three to five ounces, collars were from smaller fish, probably 10 to 12 ounces each - fairly flat.

I brined last night - took frozen collars and chunks out of vacuum sealed bags, put straight into a simple mixed cold brine of 1c kosher salt, 1.5c brown sugar, 1/2 c teriyaki, 1/2 c soy. About 4 quarts of water. Brine time 8 hours in fridge. Rested an hour and the pellicle formed perfectly fine.

Smoker I used was my trusty old little chief. Four racks, well spaced fillets/collars. Two full pan loads of apple chips I had soaked in water. On the smoker for about 6 hours, finished in the oven at low heat to get temp (probed) to 150 - that took about 30 minutes or so at 225. All internal temps of fish were fairly even.

Looked fine when pulled, pretty standard little chief offering. That's about the best of it. The taste was fairly plain, one fatty collar piece simply was half mushy/half firm where the fat and the lean simply did not mesh well. One tail chunk taro purple - I expected it to be much lighter when heated - pretty unappealing another loin chunk much lighter but fairly dry.

Edible yes, enjoyable - not so much. Sharable/presentable - no way. Smoke was OK, I diverted from using my go to which is hickory - but I did not want to overpower the fish - the apple was a meh... salt content / taste seems ok. Overall far to dry, color on some way to dark.

The fish itself is fine, we have been using some for sashimi, have about 150# of it in 1# chunks (good trip) in the freezer so for sure the fish itself is not the culprit here - only me for the first tuna smoking try. I did not nail it.

I assume the smoking time on the Little Chief is simply too long for such lean fillets. I could have used more salt, but really that did not seems to be an issue. The taro/purple coloration may just be the nature of the far towards tail piece.

Fore sure with Tuna what I did before with other fish did not work - and I probably need to change equipment from the dark age little chief to something more modern. Appreciate any comments/suggestions - I'll be researching as well. Cheers.
 
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dctrjayyy

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That's is a really long time but it depends on the temp of the smoker.
 
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They are low temp smokers - never had an issue with fatty fish, cheeses or even brined pheasant (the latter you have to oven finish). But yea for sure too long - jut at 115 degrees I was not happy to let it be from the food safety standpoint - which I probably over-thought.
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esgeo

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Sounds like the fish got too hot to me. I’d aim for 130 (or less) rather than 150…

here’s a good article about tuna temps (granted for sous vide, but the concept is the same).

 
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plj46

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Six hours and then the oven ? That might be the problem.And FWIW i haven't had much success smoking defrosted Bluefin myself.I gave up on it.
 
matt fe2o3
matt fe2o3
Yea, the little chiefs are fairly low temp smokers. At 6 hours the internal of fish was about 115 - hence the oven finish.

Salmon can go 10/12 hours and come out perfect - but I knew I was already on borrowed time so oven finished it....to the fail - LOL.
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stairman

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Dry means too long...mushy means too hot..smoking isn't cooking..but if it is this is what you get
 
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Jurel Hunter

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    for tuna loins i cover in 2:1 sugar:salt (no water)in big ziploc overnite in fridge. rinse off well before smoking. apply flavors 1/2 hr before done. sounds like ur smoke time too long. i wud not put in oven. maybe bring up temp in smoker a bit.

    just keep tinkering n let us know what ya figure out
     
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    Will do, my smoke is on old style one temp electric element type. I'm going to look at modern smokers with proper temp adjustments - I see that as a theme here. Thanks.
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    sealskinner

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    Well today was not an epic but a rather humbling fail. Perhaps some of you folks can chime in on where I went wrong, and some better ideas.

    Decided to smoke some Frozen BFT collars and smaller towards the tail fillets today. Basically treated the process the same as I do Salmon and that was likely my first mistake. Chucks were roughly three to five ounces, collars were from smaller fish, probably 10 to 12 ounces each - fairly flat.

    I brined last night - took frozen collars and chunks out of vacuum sealed bags, put straight into a simple mixed cold brine of 1c kosher salt, 1.5c brown sugar, 1/2 c teriyaki, 1/2 c soy. About 4 quarts of water. Brine time 8 hours in fridge. Rested an hour and the pellicle formed perfectly fine.

    Smoker I used was my trusty old little chief. Four racks, well spaced fillets/collars. Two full pan loads of apple chips I had soaked in water. On the smoker for about 6 hours, finished in the oven at low heat to get temp (probed) to 150 - that took about 30 minutes or so at 225. All internal temps of fish were fairly even.

    Looked fine when pulled, pretty standard little chief offering. That's about the best of it. The taste was fairly plain, one fatty collar piece simply was half mushy/half firm where the fat and the lean simply did not mesh well. One tail chunk taro purple - I expected it to be much lighter when heated - pretty unappealing another loin chunk much lighter but fairly dry.

    Edible yes, enjoyable - not so much. Sharable/presentable - no way. Smoke was OK, I diverted from using my go to which is hickory - but I did not want to overpower the fish - the apple was a meh... salt content / taste seems ok. Overall far to dry, color on some way to dark.

    The fish itself is fine, we have been using some for sashimi, have about 150# of it in 1# chunks (good trip) in the freezer so for sure the fish itself is not the culprit here - only me for the first tuna smoking try. I did not nail it.

    I assume the smoking time on the Little Chief is simply too long for such lean fillets. I could have used more salt, but really that did not seems to be an issue. The taro/purple coloration may just be the nature of the far towards tail piece.

    Fore sure with Tuna what I did before with other fish did not work - and I probably need to change equipment from the dark age little chief to something more modern. Appreciate any comments/suggestions - I'll be researching as well. Cheers.
    1.5 hours on the he collar and 2.5 on the loin piece. Low heat.
    EDIT: My cousin has to have fish well done. So her piece got extra time. go
    image.jpg
    image.jpg
     
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    Croaker.Stroker

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    Cut the pieces thinner. Smoke Temp no more than 160 degrees.

    Thinking of it as a drying process rather than “cooking”.
     
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    Shimano Penn

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    Hmm, several comments on fresh vrs frozen, I can’t say I’ve really noticed a difference. I mostly just smoke the bellies. I have a bunch in the freezer, going out this weekend. If I get one I’ll do a batch 1/2 fresh and 1/2 frozen 😎. (I’m using a Traeger if that matters)
     
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    sealskinner

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    Hmm, several comments on fresh vrs frozen, I can’t say I’ve really noticed a difference. I mostly just smoke the bellies. I have a bunch in the freezer, going out this weekend. If I get one I’ll do a batch 1/2 fresh and 1/2 frozen 😎. (I’m using a Traeger if that matters)
    I mostly smoke the frozen
     
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    nicodemus

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    What I've found with frozen, non-oily pieces of tuna is that when it doesn't look done at, say 2 hours or so, and feels too soft to be done... it really is done. I never go over 150, usually like to let smoker get up to 140 or so with fish in it over about 2 hrs. Belly meat/collars can take more heat and/or longer smoking time. Salt, sugar and smoke are all preservatives, so I've never worried about hitting some particular internal heat to make it "safe" to eat.
     
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