Smoked Bluefish, Fish Wrap Style


This simple and true recipe has three equal parts: brine, pellicle and smoke. Brine provides flavor and moisture through the smoking part. Pellicle adds a protective layer to keep moisture in the fillets and a surface for the smoke. The smoking part, well that’s what seals the deal. Each step is pretty straightforward and this recipe doesn’t require lots of ingredients to make a fine summer treat. I prefer mesquite or hickory chips but in a pinch, you can use a fruit wood like apple or cherry. The problem is that the fruity trees don’t provide much flavor against a strong fish like bluefish. So use mesquite or hickory and be happy.

Now the rules. Always use fresh bluefish. Always, Bluefish is a saltwater classic that fits the mold of “Fish and family both get old after three days.” Sorry Mom. If you are buying your fish from a store, and the flesh looks even a little grey, pass. Spend your money of a fishing rod or a day trip on a charter boat to catch your own. Keep only smaller fish. Larger blues tend to be higher in mercury.

Methyl mercury is formed in aquatic environments and as such, is biomagnified throughout the aquatic food web. Some mercury is absorbed at the bottom of the food chain by algae, which is eaten by higher level consumers. At each level of consumption, the concentration increases. Because bluefish are bio-accumulators, they excrete only minimal amounts of these and other contaminates, like PCB’s, which they consume through predation. Despite PCBs having been banned for more than thirty years, their complex chemical structures make them resistant to breakdown, as they settle in organs and body fat.

If you catch your own, fish need to be bled, gutted and iced as quickly as possible.