Simple House-Smoked Bluefish

Smoked bluefish filets can be procured from New England specialty food shops; however it is easy and inexpensive to make your own at home.  Though the popularity of dedicated smokers has surged in recent years, the only "equipment" needed for this recipe is a simple backyard grill.  As we are city dwellers, I smoke my fish over a grate in our wood-burning fireplace, which results in a mild flavor and moist texture that is perfect for my savory pâté.



  • One pound fresh bluefish, skin removed
  • Sea salt and brown sugar


  • Handful of seasoned hickory wood smoker chips, soaked in water for one hour and drained
  • If using an outdoor grill: quart of charcoal briquettes
  • If using a fireplace: two or three logs of seasoned hardwood (NEVER use charcoal indoors) and over-fire camp grill grate


Step One

Dry fish and sprinkle with equal parts salt and sugar.  Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to four.

Step Two

If using an outdoor grill: Light one quart lump charcoal and let it burn until the coals glow red.  Push the coals to one side of the grill and spread a handful of the drained wood chips over the top. Place the grate on top of the grill.

If using a fireplace: Start a fire and let it burn down until there are only red coals remaining.  Push the coals to one side of the fireplace and spread a handful of the drained wood chips over top.  Place the camp grill grate in the fireplace on top of the coals.

Step Three

Add the fish to the end of the grate opposite of the coals and away from direct heat.  Either place the lid on the grill or, if using a fireplace, tent the grate with aluminum foil.  Smoke for forty-five minutes, monitoring the fire and lightly dousing any flames if necessary. 

 Smoked bluefish pâté

Smoked bluefish pâté