Alder-Smoked Albacore Tuna

Alder Smoked Tuna

Alder Smoked Tuna

I was rooting around in the freezer in the garage and stumbled upon a vacuum-sealed package of albacore tuna bellies that I set aside for smoking last summer.  You may remember that I smoked some tuna bellies up not long ago.  This is the other package that I had from those same tuna.  Tuna steaks or fillets come from the “top” of the tuna from about the mid-section of the tuna on up.  The belly portion below the mid-section is kind of oily, and perfect for smoking.  Here are a few pics of the tuna fresh from the ocean.

In an attempt to improve upon near-perfection, I slightly modified the preparation.  First, we packed the tuna bellies in sea salt and let it sit in the sea salt for about 20 to 30 minutes.  I heard or read somewhere that the salt draws the moisture out of the surface layer and somehow “seals in” the moisture in the interior of the fish, leaving it tender and juicy inside.  After the salting stage, we rinsed the sea salt from the tuna and patted the bellies dry, letting them sit for about 30 minutes to air dry some more, before loading them onto the smoking racks and loading them into the Little Chief Smoker!

One pan of Alder chips for about 3 hours, then flip and toss in another pan of chips for another hour (long enough to get some cold beer) and then you’ve got a tasty tuna treat!  Darker beer seems to go a little better, so Newcastle was the one this time–I didn’t want so dark that Paula wouldn’t drink any.  Anyway, try not to drool on your keyboard!

5 Responses to “Alder-Smoked Albacore Tuna”

  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for the post. Spent last week on the Oregon coast and came back with a 23 pound tuna. Today half of it is going in the smoker with your recipe. It’ll be a mix of bellies and loin. Again, thanks for the post and I’ll add a follow-up with the results.

  2. Jkb says:

    Mark, be sure to try the smoked tuna while it’s still warm! and Newcastle works well to help wash them down. And if you need any help eating it… 😉

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Mark says:

    Shut the front door!

    This stuff is awesome. First time smoking albacore and won’t be my last. I followed directions for salting but once dried and on the racks sprinkled coarsely ground black pepper on the pieces. Then dried in front of a fan on the smoking racks till tacky but dry, about an hour. Into the smoker with alder. Just tasted the smaller top pieces. They are terrific and just about done. The loins lower down still need maybe an hour or so but I think I’m going to hold off on any more smoke. The balance right now between smoke flavor, amount of saltiness, and the tuna taste and texture is terrific. And my wife brought me home some Newcastle for the official tasting when the loins come out (but they can’t beat the bellies!). Thanks again Jkb. I was worried about this project and you saved the day! If you ever wonder if your blogs help people out, consider this a testimonial.

  4. Jkb says:

    Awesome! After reading that, I’m thinking I need to go check my freezer to see if I have any smoking-quality tuna left for next weekend. Glad it came out so good!