Smoked fish dip is an old school Florida tradition. If the rumors are true, S. Florida was once dotted with smoked fish huts that existed solely for the purpose of smoking fish and selling fish dip.
My neighbor, Dan’s family used to own one of these fish smokin’ shacks until about 30 years ago so he now does his fish smoking in his back yard. Lucky me, about once a month he brings over smoked mullet, marlin, and sailfish which make wonderful fish dip. Scott calls my dip “crack” because it is that good and addicting. My recipe is a derivation of Dan’s family recipe.
Keep in mind that if you don’t have these types of smoked fish available (marlin, sailfish, mullet) that you can substitute other kinds of smoked fish you can find at your local seafood shop.
In Florida, you will often find the fish dip made with mullet, kingfish, amberjack or even mahi mahi. The oilier fish are great for smoking because they don’t dry out, but if you are buying versus catching for smoking, the ones that are easiest to find is usually mahi. I’ve made this with wahoo as well and it was delicious but my instagram friends told me that was sacrilegious to use such a nice fish for smoked fish dip.
Over the years, my Smoked fish dip has become to be known as my most stellar of recipes. When friends come to visit from out of town, the request I make surplus batches so they can take it home with them in their suitcase.
Florida Smoked fish dip is kind of like pizza. Even the bad fish dip is still good because, just like how bad pizza is still good, even fish dip on a scale of 5 out of 10 is still amazing.
So, when I tell you mine is good, I am not being humble, it is damn good. I think what really takes it up a notch is the addition of lime juice and lime zest. Something about the brightness of the lime juice and zest helps cut into the smokiness of the fish, while also getting a tingle of spice from the jalapenos and that right there is just about the perfect bite. I promise.
If you are looking to make this recipe from scratch, ie, not buying fish that has already been smoked, here are the necessary steps to get started.
How to Smoke Fish
- Use a dry brine- ie, a mixture of one part brown sugar to one part kosher salt and apply to your fish filets hitting all sides of the exposed fish. Cover, and let the dry brine do it’s thing for an hour.
- Rinse the brine off. Place the fish on a plate and pat dry with a paper towel making sure there is no moisture on the plate and the fish filets.
- Let the fish dry out overnight in the refrigerator uncovered so they form a pellicle. What is a pellicle? The pellicle is a coating of proteins that the fish gets by airing out so that the smoke will adhere to during the smoking process. Without the pellicle, your smoked fish will have the texture of grilled fish so this part is important. If you don’t have the time to air out overnight, put your fish in the fridge with a small fan over it for 4 hours and that should get the job done.
- Smoke the fish at 225 until it reaches an internal temp of 145. This will take a few hours. You can also coat it with a layer of maple/bourbon as you go along to add additional flavor. This is great if you just want to eat the fish by itself. Reference my maple smoked salmon recipe for the full recipe that will guide you to smoked salmon perfection, perfect for adding to all your favorite dishes!
- Now, your fish is ready to be made into this most epic of all SMOKED FISH DIP RECIPES!
If you want to try your hand at Smoked Fish for enjoying on it’s own, check out my Maple Bourbon Smoked Salmon recipe!
Did ya’ll know that Smoked Fish dip is one of the first recipes I received notoriety for? In fact, I started it making it early on in the GrillGirl days, as can be seen here in a pic from my sailboat racing days! Here is a pic from Miami race week back in 2010! And the recipe was even featured in Flamingo Magazine in 2019.
So, are you excited to make it yet?!!!! Recipe below! Leave me a comment if you make it and let me know what you think!
This dip is so good, you may eat the whole batch in one sitting! Enjoy!
- 6–8 ounces smoked fish, skin removed, meat chopped in coarsely (so as not to burn out the motor on your food processor!)
- 1/2 block Neufchatel cream cheese (Neufchatel is lower in fat and you can’t tell the difference in this recipe)
- 2 jalapenos
- juice of one lime
- zest of one lime
- 1 tablespoon old bay seasoning
- 1/4 cup light mayo (or less, depending on how wet your mixture is and how well it is blending)
- salt, pepper to taste
Puree ingredients in a food processor until well blended. I like to make mine almost whipped so as to easily spread on crackers. Be like a true Floridian and serve this with pickled jalapenos and hot sauce!
- Prep Time: 12 hours (not including smoking)
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: smoked fish, fish dip
- Method: smoking, grilling
- Cuisine: Floribbean, Caribbean, Floriddean
Keywords: Smoked Fish Dip, Best Smoked Fish Dip, How to Smoke Fish, Best Florida Smoked Fish Dip Recipe, Fish Dip Recipe
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