Tuna has a firm texture, which means it can withstand various types of cooking, including smoking and grilling. Delicate fish often have to be poached or at least handled very carefully, but that is not the case with tuna.
This saltwater fish is often sold in big, thick steaks. Red meat can also be smoked, but tuna makes a lovely alternative, since it is packed with vitamins and proteins, and also low in fat. Use ahi tuna (top quality) or yellow fin if you cannot get ahi.
Some people think they do not like tuna because they have only had canned tuna (which has a strong smell and a very different texture than the cooked fresh fish) or they might assume this type of fish is low quality because it is cheap when purchased in cans. If you can convince them to sample your home-smoked fish though, they will be converted and fall in love with this fish.
The fish is usually marinated before you smoke it, and this both adds flavor and increases the moisture content, which helps to stop it drying out while it is being smoked.
Brown sugar, lemon juice, bay leaves, and salt would make a classic marinade, or you could try garlic, lemon, soy sauce, and teriyaki, or even lime juice, chili powder, and cilantro. Experiment with different flavors to see which you enjoy the most. Another idea is to smoke it on a cedar plank. This tends to cook the tuna faster, so it will only need about an hour and a half.
What You Need
If you want to smoke your own tuna, you will need a smoker, although you could grill with wood chunks to replicate the flavor. Many people like to use cherry wood, to give the fish a fantastic flavor.
Preparing the Fish
Soak the wood for a minimum of half an hour. Put 4 tuna steaks in a big Ziploc bag with 2 quarts of water, 2/3 cup of coarse salt, ½ cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 5 crumbled bay leaves. Seal the bag and chill it for 3 hours, turning occasionally.
Take the tuna out of the bag and let it air-dry for half an hour, then brush the fish with vegetable oil and pat 2 tablespoons of ground black pepper all over them in a thin layer.
Light a fire in the smoker and let it burn for 20 minutes. Drain the wood and arrange it on the coals. Pour 4 cups of dry white wine in a water pan and put that inside the smoker. Spray cooking spray on the rack, and then add the fish on the upper rack. Let it cook for 3 or 4 hours, or until you can flake the meat with a fork.
How to Serve Smoked Tuna
Once your fish is done, you can serve it with lemon or lime wedges, along with your favorite side dishes. Another idea is to make a smoked tuna melt. Chop the smoked fish up and stir it with mayonnaise, thinly sliced celery and lime juice, as well as a pinch each of salt and black pepper, then spread this over buttered bread, and add tomato, cheese, and another slice of bread.
Cook in a skillet for a couple of minutes per side or until golden brown. This makes a fantastic lunch. Learning how to smoke tuna in a smoker is worthwhile, because you can do so much with the finished fish, and the flavor is incredible.
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