Smoked Steelhead With Homemade Tartar Sauce

Do you have a spouse or family members who can’t relate to your love for fish? This recipe is “fishy” enough to satisfy an appetite for fish, but mild enough to impress even those who prefer chicken. My wife said this was the best fish she’s eaten and asked me to keep some leftovers for her, which is saying a lot, considering that her favorite fish are shaped like sticks and have a thick crusty breading.

For this story, I purchased two frozen steelhead fillets from my local grocery store. I thawed and seasoned them, then cooked them skin side down on my Meadow Creek SQ36 Offset Smoker. Once the fish reached 140 degrees F in the thickest part of the fillet, I brushed it with melted butter and served it with French fries and my homemade tartar sauce. It was simply amazing!

Tartar Sauce

  • 1-1/4 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup homemade pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley and 2 teaspoons finely-chopped onion to boost flavor and presentation

Mix all the ingredients in a small container and set it in the fridge for an hour or two before serving.

The fish came vacuum sealed and frozen.

The fillets are ready for seasoning.

I seasoned these fish with Oak Ridge’s new seasoning Smokey Chile Lime All Purpose Rub. The flavor was fabulous, but you can substitute this with your favorite seafood seasoning or even a Texas brisket style seasoning. (Don’t season the skin side.)

I fired my Meadow Creek SQ36 Smoker with about 7 or 8 pounds of Royal Oak’s Chef Select charcoal briquettes and a split of apple wood. It was running at about 225 degrees F.

The SQ36’s grate is long enough to hold two fillets lengthwise, and it would hold up to eight with the optional second-tier grate.

This fillet has been cooking for an hour. Notice the fat cooking out of the meat.

Thin blue smoke and a handsome smoker

The fish is done when it reaches 140 degrees F in the thickest part. Mine took an hour and a half, but it can take up to two hours, depending on the temperature of your smoker at the grate level and the size of your fish.

Melt some butter and brush it over the fish for a nice finishing touch, then slice it into serving-size lengths.

Slide the fish sideways to loosen the skin a bite at a time. Dip it into the sauce and enjoy.

This dish is on the expensive side, but the tender, savory goodness of every single bite will make up for it. Cook a fillet next time you’re itching to make something extraordinary. You’ll be the hero of the party!

About the Author

Lavern is the online brand ambassador for Meadow Creek Welding and founder of StoryQue magazine.

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