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In addition, see the Health section for more articles on fish.
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Winter is a great time of year to break out your smoker and give your family and friends a special treat with some hardy Florida smoked king mackerel! It is easy and fun to do and smoked king mackerel is great as a party hors d’oeuvre with or without crackers.
The meat of the king mackerel is full flavored with a soft, flaky texture. Smoked mackerel is a favorite of many but this fish can also be baked, broiled or grilled with your favorite seasonings. The natural fats that are unique to this fish are especially helpful in preventing any drying during the smoking process. Whole or portions of fish can be smoked. Fillets with their skin intact are best for smoking.
The smoking process consists of four basic steps - cleaning, brining, drying and smoking.
* CLEANING: Rinse fish and remove any blood from the belly cavity.
* BRINING: Use simple brine such as this one or create your own. For five pounds of fish, combine 1/2 gallon water, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 ounce salt (or substitute 2 ounces of soy sauce) and 2 tablespoons black pepper in a glass container. Pat fish dry then marinate in the brine solution following recommended times in the chart below.
* DRYING: Place fish on a rack and let dry in the refrigerator until the surface starts to glaze over.
* SMOKING: Try to maintain a low smoking temperature. If using a charcoal grill, use fewer briquettes than normally required for grilling.
Additional smoking tips:
* Wood chips from apple, oak, hickory and cherry provide excellent smoke flavor.
* Do not use processed or treated timbers of any kind because they contain toxins.
* Soak hardwood chips in water for at least an hour before using.
For women of child-bearing age and small children, there are health hazards associated with mercury in king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish. For information, visit the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety website at www.cfsan.fda.gov/-seafood1.html or the Environmental Protection Agency’s website at www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish.
For recipes and information about other Florida seafood, visit www.FL-Seafood.com.