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!