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- 3.4 kilograms (3 ½ quarts) water
- 575 grams (3 2/3 cups) kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 175 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
- 494 grams (1 pound) sablefish belly or loin*, skin on and bones removed
- 2 to 3 cups alder wood chips
- Unsalted butter
- 4 English muffins
- 3 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and diced
- 1 lemon
- Some good olive oil
- Meyer lemon aioli
Smoked Sablefish, Meyer Lemon, Cucumber, English Muffin
* Sablefish, also called black cod, is a relatively abundant fish from the North Pacific with buttery white flesh that’s perfect for smoking. Some seafood watch organizations advise buying wild-caught sablefish from Alaska or British Columbia over anywhere else because of fishing practices. If you can’t find belly, which is slightly fattier, loin will do just fine.
1. Mix the water, salt, and sugar together in a stockpot and set it over high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let the liquid cool completely. Refrigerate until well chilled.
2. Submerge the sablefish completely in the chilled brine and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes. Remove from the brine, pat the fish dry, and refrigerate uncovered until completely dry (ideally overnight).
3. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 20 minutes. Drain.
4. If you have a charcoal grill, move the coals to one side of the grill and heat them until they ash over. Put the chips directly on the coals and put the fish, skin side down, on the side of the grill opposite the coals. Close the lid and open the vent over the fish.
If you have a gas grill and a smoker box, put the chips in the box and place it over direct medium heat. Heat the chips until they start to smoke, 5 to 10 minutes. If you don’t have a smoker box, put the chips on a sheet of aluminum foil, wrap them loosely, and poke holes in the top of the foil. Place the package on direct heat until the chips begin to smoke. Smoke the sablefish using indirect heat (place it on the grate but not directly over the flame).
To make a stovetop smoker, line the inside of a large wok with heavy foil. Place the wood chips in the wok. Make a drip pan by placing a heavy piece of foil over both the chips and the bottom of the wok. (Make sure it doesn’t extend up the sides.) Set a 10- to 11-inch round baking rack over the drip pan. Place the fish, skin side down, on the grate, cover the smoker, and set the heat to high. When smoke appears, lower the heat to medium-high.
7. Smoke the sablefish for 35 to 40 minutes, adding more alder wood chips as necessary to keep the smoke coming, until the flesh is firm to the touch and looks opaque.
8. Let the fish cool. Then remove and discard the skin, and cut it into five or six 3 to 4-ounce pieces. (If you’re making sandwiches for four, you’ll have a little fish left over; it will keep in the refrigerator for a week. Make more sandwiches or add it to salads and breakfast spreads.)
9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the sablefish for the sandwiches on a sheet pan and put it in the oven just to warm it. Melt a little butter. Use a serrated knife to score each English muffin around the rim. Split the muffins the rest of the way with a fork.
10. Set a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Brush the split sides of the muffins with the melted butter and cook them, buttered side down, in the sauté pan until they’re golden brown.
11. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber with 2 big squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a splash of olive oil.
12. Spread a spoonful of aioli on the split sides of each English muffin. Place a few spoonfuls of cucumber on the bottom of four muffin halves. Top each with a piece of sablefish, add the muffin top, and serve.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Roberta's Cookbook.