Q: I would like to know if I can buy a whole/half smoked fish anywhere in Charleston? I have been living in Stono Ferry for 17 years but spend my summers in Wisconsin on an island on Lake Michigan. We can buy smoked fish, white fish, lake salmon, etc., in the supermarkets as well as from “smoke houses” to eat at home.
I am giving a wine social and would love to have some smoked fish on the buffet table along with the other things for people to enjoy.
A: Sounds like a lovely idea for a snack. Unfortunately, smoked fish hasn’t attained iconic status here as it has in Door County, despite the technique having a long local history (and despite the current fervor for smoked meat.) If I had my druthers, smoked mullet would make far more frequent appearances in Charlestonians’ daily lives.
Fortunately, though, there are at least two excellent local options for shoppers seeking smoked fish.
Ted’s Butcherblock sources its cold-smoked fish from Ducktrap River of Maine. While salmon accounts for most of the store’s orders, owner Ted Dombrowski also can set you up with the smokehouse’s mackerel, trout and scallops; in the case of fin fish, you just need to specify if you’d prefer the side whole (prettier on the buffet table) or pre-sliced (less work when drinking wine.)
Smoked fish was initially a staple of the retail counter at Rappahannock Oyster Bar, but general manager Brad Mogan says the restaurant is now so busy that fish get eaten up before they reach the one- or two-day mark, at which point they’re pulled from the kitchen for preserving. Yet the restaurant is still smoking fish for its smoked fish dip, so is equipped to fulfill special orders; Mogan just requests “a couple days heads-up.”
In addition to citrus-cured steelhead trout, Mogan says he’s “been getting some nice trout and mahi,” since amberjack and vermillion snapper seasons wound down. “I’ll find something that will impress your guests,” he vows.
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