Smoked Yellowtail Salad


  • 1-1/2 – 2 pounds smoked yellowtail, broken into pieces.
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad greens


    1. Yellowtail can turn on you. When it’s really fresh, it’s one of my favorite fish to eat sashimi-style with just a sprinkling of ponzu and a dab of Sriracha. After it’s been frozen, it can be served medium-rare, but I make sure that it has been thawed completely before wrapping in two-ply paper towels and wicking out as much of the “yellowtail juices” as possible. Occasionally, it can develop an off-tasting edge over time. Make sure that you remove any of the discolored areas, all of the bloodline and the remaining parts should be fine to cook and just right for the smoker.
  •  THE BRINE. The first step, after drying thoroughly drying the fish, is to submerge it in a brine for several hours. The brine will add flavor, moisture and replace the otherwise fishy juices that you removed with the paper towels. There are some excellent brines on the market. My favorite is Hi Mountain’s Gourmet Fish Brine. I’ve used it many times for Fred Hall Shows and, believe it or not, the smoked yellowtail tastes almost like smoked ham. A basic brine consists of 1 cup each of kosher salt and brown sugar mixed with 1 gallon of water. If all you have is the finer grind table salt, use 3/4 cup or the brine will be too salty. Adding other dry flavors such as garlic powder, onion powder and herbs to the brine is fine, just don’t mess with the salt-to-water ratio and dilute it with other liquids. Heat a few cups of the water in a saucepan and stir in the kosher salt and sugar until completely dissolved. Add the mixture to the remaining water and cool completely. Place the yellowtail in a glass, plastic or ceramic container, zipper-lock plastic bags are fine, and refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours. Rinse with cold water and pat dry.
  • THE SMOKER. Any smoker will work as long as you can control the temperature. I smoke yellowtail at 185 to 200 degrees in my Camp Chef Smoke Vault. It’s been my experience that, if it’s too hot, you’re just baking the fish and not getting the benefits of smoke flavoring. If the smoker is too cool, the fish can dry out. A 2 to 3-inch thick chunk of yellowtail takes about 2 hours to smoke at 200 degrees. Bring the internal temperature of the fish to 145 degrees and you’re done. If you don’t have a smoker, follow the same directions and cook the fish in an oven or barbecue with the fish placed as far away from the heat source as possible. It won’t be smoky, but it will still taste good.
  • In a large bowl, combine green onions and next 7 ingredients. While whisking, add olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add yellowtail to the dressing and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Arrange salad greens on plates and spoon yellowtail over. Drizzle any remaining dressing over and serve.

Recipe courtesy of the Sporting Chef, Scott Leysath. Click to order The Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook!


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