- Posted September 19, 2013 by
The Art of Smoking Fish
Discover the steps to smoking salmon and bacon. This information-packed class covers the sourcing of raw materials through the various steps in the process of the hot smoking method. Demonstrations in prepping, salting, and curing fish and bacon for smoking, plus options for different wood and operating a portable hot smoker will give you the knowledge you need to smoke your own meats and fish recipes at home.
Preserving fish and meats with smoke has taken place for thousands of years. This preserving process was essential for keeping meats as freezers, refrigerators and canning are all only recent technologies.
Today in the modern age we have no problems keeping food fresh, and smoked fish I something of a delicacy. Really good smoked fish is hard to come by and often expensive, yet any angler with access to a kettle type BBQ can turn out premium smoked fish.
Cold Smoke - Hot Smoke
There are two distinct ways of smoking fish - cold smoke and hot smoke.
Cold smoke relies on pickling the fish with a preservative (salt) and then hanging the fish in a box which is removed from a fire, but attached by a pipe to carry the smoke.
The fish is then exposed to low temperature smoke for a relatively long period (up to 12 hours) and is completely preserved by the process. Fish treated in this way can be stored for up to six months and in cooler areas can be stored without refrigeration.
Cold smoking is too involved, slow and cumbersome for most people. Modern time demands make hot smoking the preferred option.
Hot smoking both cooks and smokes the fish. It is marginally preserved by curing, but hot smoked fish should be eaten within seven days of cooking and it must be stored in the fridge after cooking.
Each ingredient in the process has a part to play, and each is equally important. There are no short cuts, but if the directions are closely followed there will be no failures either.
The started point is to have a kettle type cooker. The fish are smoked with the air intake in the bottom and the air outlet at the top both fully open. Smoking of fish is a temperature controlled exercise and the kettle can only be used in the open. Strong winds can influence both the overall temperature of the kettle and the combustion rate happening inside.
Smoking is best done in calm conditions, or if its windy move the kettle to a sheltered location. Keeping a constant temperature while cooking is important.
All our smoking has been done using heatbeads. The temperature is controlled by the number of beads used with each type of fish. Most of the recipes we use, have 20 beads per-side which produces a good result.
The aim is to cook the fish slowly with smoke all round. Both the smoke and its flavour are carried through the fish by the movement of juices within the fish during the cooking process.
Do not rush the smoking by adding heat as it will diminish the resulting flavour.
The heatbeads are also allowed to burn down for about 30 to 40 minutes before smoking starts. Look at the beads carefully, when they are light coloured and smouldering with little or any flame they are about right.
Always ensure that the firelighters used to start the heatbeads are completely combusted and that no pieces of them fall into the ash at the start. Failure to monitor this will result in a distinctive kerosene flavour in the fish which is most unappetising.
Usually the firelighters are consumed in the first ten minutes and the burn down period takes care of them, but it is chips and splinters of the fire lighters which are dropped at the start that cause the problems.