a whole smoked fish from our latest Patreon video
After a long holiday season that started in early November taking Thanksgiving orders for 75 families and ending on Christmas Eve with guests picking up over 1500 tamales from our crew, I was in need of some mental relaxation. For me, there’s no better way to do that than by getting out in nature. Either on the water, the hiking trail, or the golf course, I love getting outside and breathing some fresh air.
Earlier in the month my good friend and fellow food truck owner Davis Turner of Huckleberry, a Gulf-sourced coastal cuisine trailer located at Circle Brewing in North Austin, asked me if I’d like to come down to Port O’Connor with he and his dad for a weekend of flounder gigging and fishing. I immediately said yes and started planning Christmas dinner around a Smoked Stuffed Flounder.
Smoked seafood is the one of the boundaries we have not fully breached at LeRoy and Lewis. It has a tendency to spread its aroma around the smoker and I definitely don’t want any of our barbecue accidentally tasting fishy. However, it is something I have seen almost nowhere on barbecue or seafood menus, and that intrigued me. One of my many New Year’s resolutions is to smoke more fish and I figured this was a great starting place.
The stuffing on this fish has a distinctly Italian flavor profile but swap the basil out for cilantro, the parm out for cotija, and now it’s Mexican. Changing up the aromatics and herbs will instantly change the feeling of the dish.
Smoked Stuffed Flounder
1 whole flounder, gutted head on or off
2 sticks butter
6 cloves garlic
1 C picked crab leg meat
1 C grated parmesan
1 C rough chopped fresh basil
1 sleeve crumbled Ritz crackers
1 C Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 C any barbecue rub
Clean the fish of any slime and wipe it as dry as possible. Make an incision along the length of the fish where the spine is, directly in the middle of the fish. Scrape along the bone, under the filet as if you were going to filet the fish but leave the tail end connected and only go about half way into the filet. The goal is to create a pocket for the stuffing, not to peel the whole fish open.
Cook the garlic in the butter on medium heat in a small sauce pan until it softens and just starts to brown. Remove it from the heat and cool slightly. Combine the crab, cheese, basil, breadcrumbs, crackers, and butter/garlic mix in a mixing bowl and mix with gloved hands to combine. You’re looking for a texture to the mix that will hold it’s shape when squeezed into a ball, but then will crumble loosely.
Wrap a 1/2 sheet tray completely with foil and place the fish on it. Stuff the cavity with the stuffing. Season the fish with your favorite barbecue rub and place a couple pats of cold butter on the stuffing to keep the fish moist during cooking.
Cold smoke the fish at 150F for about 30 mins and slowly raise the temp to about 225F over the next 30 min for about an hour total. The internal temp of the fish and stuffing should be 140F and the skin should peel away easily from the flesh of the fish.
Rest the fish for about 10 minutes and then peel the skin away before serving to reveal moist white flesh. Be careful of bones when eating any whole fish.