Manitoba is home to a wide range of fresh water fish. Often overlooked and very underrated is the Goldeye. This sleek predator is abundant in several river systems in the south and is without a doubt, one of my favourite local snacks. If you haven’t tried Smoked Goldeye before, your missing out an a tasty treat!
Where To Find It?
The early months of June in Manitoba provide some of the best goldeye fishing around. The Pembina River. A river with countless bends, forks and surprises. There are numerous places to fish and there is a pretty good chance you are going to have a good day catching Goldeye no matter which part of it you find yourself on. It is home to several species, including Rock Bass, Channel Cat, Suckers, Bullheads, Walleye, Goldeye, Creek Chub, and the occasional Pike.
For more information on the Manitoba Goldeye Click Here.
Smoking fish is a wonderful way to cook the meat. It adds a wonderful depth of flavour that really brings it back to nature. Smoking Goldeye is really quite a simple game. It consists of a simple brine, an overnight pit stop in the fridge and then a few short hours in a smoky bath.
Once you get home, you will need to clean your fish. For some, this is the most tedious part. I actually enjoy every step. I find I respect the fish more if I take part in each step along the way. To clean the fish you will first need to scale said fish. Take the dull side of your boning or fillet knife (We recommend Dalstrong Knives for their quality!) and run it against the fishes body tail to nose (against the grain if you will). This will pop the scales off and expose the smooth skin underneath. Once all of the scales are removed, you’re ready to gut the fish. To do this, simply make a shallow incision from the anal fin all the way up to the lower jaw. Gently spread the cavity open being careful not to rip it. You can now grab all the fishes insides and pull it out. Clean out all the blood and rinse the cavity until its completely clean. It should be a uniform whitish pink colour (no dark red). Once this is complete, you are ready for the brine.
Your fish are best smoked after they have spent the night in a solution of water, maple syrup , brown sugar, soy sauce, salt, some spices and herbs. Simple really. To do this, bring an appropriate amount of water to cover your fish, to a slow rolling boil. Add some salt and brown sugar and stir. It should dissolve into the liquid. If it does not, you’ve added too much sugar. (basically it equates to roughly 1 cup of sugar for every 2 L of water).
- 2 L Water
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Coarse Salt
- 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
- 4 Bay Leaves
- 4 Cloves Of Minced Garlic
- 1/3 Cup Soya Sauce
- 1 Tsp Ginger
- 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 1 Tsp Pepper
Bring your water to a boil and add in the sugar, salt and syrup. Once the solids are dissolved, turn the heat off and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and then let sit to cool. Once it has cooled off, pour over the fish in a sealable container. Place in fridge over night.
Ready For Smoke
Your fish are now ready for the smoker. Personally we use Lumber Jack Pellets.
- Pre-heat smoker to 180℉
- Remove fish from brine and pat dry outside with a paper towel and inside.
- Lay or hang fish. If you own a Vertical Smoker, make sure you have Smoking Meat Hooks.
Some people start smoking at an even lower temp and gradually raise it. I just let it roll here for a couple hours. You’re looking for an internal temp of 140℉-150℉. The longer you leave your fish on the smoker, the drier they will become so it is all personal preference at this point.
STORAGE: Your smoked Goldeye will last a few days in the fridge, however if you’re like us, it will never last that long!