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  Gone Fishing  Fish Cuisine

Smoking Fish - Red Snapper

Have a look at The Art of Smoking Fish for an in depth look at smoking fish.

Fish Suitable

Red Snapper, Salmon, Trout

Cooking Utensils

  • Weber Barbecue (57 cm)
  • 90 Barbecue Briquettes (Heat Beads)
  • 2 - 4 Hickory chunks
  • 1 Drip Pan, Water

Cooking Time

3 - 4 hours


  • large whole Red Snapper (3.6 to 4.5 kilograms), Cleaned
  • 50 grams lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard (see below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • Melted butter or oil

Mustard Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1teaspoon corn flour
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried taragon or basil, crushed

In saucepan, combine water, mustard, and corn flour. Stir in syrup, vinegar, and tarragon. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Can be used and brushed onto sausages, rissoles, or pork during the last 10 minutes or grilling time. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes 1/3 cup (five 1-tablespoon servings).

Smoked Red Snapper

Always use the indirect method when using a Weber to smoke food. Indirect fires are transformed into smoke-cooking fires by adding just one or two chunks of Hickory to the coals on each side of the Weber. The more flavour you require, the more Hickory chunks you add.

To smoke-cook Snapper, use 90 barbecue briquettes (45 each side of the Weber). Once the briquettes have had time to ash over (about 40 minutes), position the drip tray, and if need be, fill with a small amount of water. Place the grill on the barbecue, then add the Hickory chunks to the heat beads, one per side.

Its a good idea to leave the lid off for a little while when adding the Hickory. This allows it to catch fire. Once it is burning, replace the Weber lid, and it will start to smoke intensely. With Webers, its important to use chunks of smoking wood rather than chips or sawdust, as the chunks last longer and require less attention, resulting in a better smoke flavour.

You will need to brush or spray some oil onto the grill, so as the fish does not initially stick to the grill during the course of smoking. You will also need a large cake pan to use as a drip pan. The drip pan is important to keep the direct heat away from the fish, to force the smoke to spread throughout the Weber, and to catch the drippings which could flame up if they fell onto the coals below.

I also make a habit of filling up the drip pan with a small amount of water. The heat from the briquettes against the pan will heat up the water, causing it to steam. This will keep any foods being cooked from drying out to quickly. It also prevents the pan from getting too messy with all the fat and oil that can drip down, making cleaning of the pan that much easier.

Combine lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, prepared mustard, garlic salt, basil, salt; mix and brush in cavity of fish. Arrange onion and lemon slices alternately in cavity of fish. Brush outside of fish with melted butter or oil. Place the fish on the oiled grill and drizzle remaining lemon juice mixture over the fish, allowing the excess to flow into the drip pan.

Cover the Weber and smoke-cook for 2 to 3 hours or until done. As a guide, my Weber Cooking Guide states for Fish (Whole), smoke-cooking should be 25 minutes per kilo, where as Fish (Fillets) are 8 - 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Make sure that the top and bottom vents are partially open, so as to allow the briquettes to continuously smoulder the Hickory blocks, rather than completely extinguishing them. You can leave the fish splayed on the rack or fold them closed. If smoking fish whole, I think closing them gives a better appearance, but splaying them gives them more surface area through which to absorb the smoke, hence a smokier flavour. It is all a matter of personal taste. If you splay them it is better to leave them that way when you serve them. The skin will crack open when you fold them closed after you smoke them. On the other hand, if you serve them splayed you might as well have filleted them in the first place.

As the fish smokes, keep an eye on the grill. If you see the smoke thinning out, replenish the wood. Once the fish is cooked, remove the fish and close all the vents on the Weber, both top and bottom, so as to suffocate the briquettes. Once cool, these briquettes can be re-used for your next Weber barbecue.

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