Smoked

Smoked

By
Nathan Outlaw
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493727
Photographer
David Loftus

Smoking is a traditional ancient method of preservation applied to many foods, but throughout history it has been particularly useful for fish, which goes off relatively quickly. In times past, most fishermen had a smokehouse attached to their cottage. Typically, they would salt the fish for storage, then dry it and smoke it with heat for eating. With refrigeration and freezers, smoking is no longer necessary for preserving, but the technique is still used for the wonderful flavours it lends to the fish.

Over time, the ancient smoking process has been adapted and refined. Nowadays there are basically two types of smoking: cold and hot. Cold smoking takes place between 28 and 32°C, which does not cook the fish or eliminate pathogens, so it is essential to refrigerate the fish. Smoked salmon is the most popular cold-smoked fish. Hot smoking, which is carried out between 70 and 80°C, does cook the fish and changes the texture. The best example of hot-smoked fish is smoked mackerel, which is a particular favourite of mine.

There are now two methods of smoking: traditional and mechanical. For the former, the fish is suspended in smokehouses over smouldering wood, usually overnight, so it slowly takes on the smokiness.

With mechanical smoking, smoke is distilled and used in liquid or solid form, so the process is akin to painting on the flavour. It’s a quick, cheap way to produce smoked fish for supermarkets, but it’s not great in my opinion.

Traditionally smoked seafood is far superior to its commercial counterpart, so buy this, unless, of course, you are going to smoke the fish yourself, which I would definitely recommend.

Smoking fish is an adventure! You will, of course, need something to smoke it in.

Now that can be an actual smoker, either a Bradley smoker, which I use, or a Big Green Egg or, if you know a good carpenter, he could make you one – like a shed. Or, if you don’t want to go to the expense of a purpose-built smoker, you can simply use a large bucket or metal box with some holes drilled into it. You will also need untreated wood shavings. Don’t make the mistake of using treated wood, which I did once; it lent a rather peculiar chemical taste!

For hot smoking, you can get really good inexpensive stovetop smokers and I’d recommend buying one of these. You put wood shavings in the bottom of it and get these smoking over a flame, then place your fish on the rack, put it inside the smoker and slide on the lid – it’s as simple as that. Make sure you have your extractor on full though – you will need it!

Obviously, the size of the fish or shellfish will determine how long you smoke it for.

You can smoke pretty much any seafood, so experiment, but be prepared for highs and lows, hopefully more highs!

Best seafood for cold smoking

Salmon, sea trout, bream, trout; also try bass, grey mullet, mackerel, mussels, oysters.

Best seafood for hot smoking

Salmon, sea trout, trout, bream (all types), bass, grey mullet, mackerel, cod, hake, haddock, whiting, red mullet, horse mackerel.

Accompaniments and garnishes

Horseradish yoghurt, beetroot and apple chutney, tomato water dressing, smoked tomatoes, fennel marmalade, marinated beetroot, treacle bread.

Recipes in this Chapter

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