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Chef Michael Symon shows you how to brine and smoke your own fish for this special holiday appetizer.

Want more party bite ideas? Get his recipe for Sweet Potato Fritters with Feta and Dill here.


  • 1 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups kosher salt
  • One 3-pound boneless, skin-on whitefish fillet
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • 4 to 8 slices pumpernickel bread, for serving
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
  • Caper berries, for serving
  • Whole celery leaves, for serving


Serves: 6


In a large container, mix to fully combine 3 gallons ice-cold water, the brown sugar, and salt. Add fish to the brine and refrigerate 4 hours.

Prepare and preheat your smoker to 250°F. When temperature reaches 250°F and the smoke is running clear, remove fish from brine (discard brine), rinse fish with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and place n the smoker. Cook until fish reaches an internal temperature of 140°F, about 3 hours. For best results, use a probe thermometer to continually monitor the fish’s temperature.

In a food processor, pulse mayonnaise, yogurt, scallions, mustard, paprika, and celery seeds to desired consistency. Remove and discard skin from the smoked fish. Using a pair of forks, shred fish into large flakes and add to the food processor. Gently fold fish into the mayonnaise mixture to combine. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Serve with the pumpernickel bread, lemon wedges, caper berries, and celery leaves.