Smoking

Like a lot of my recipes, ideas come from things that “I miss”.

I remember (back in the old days) my mother warming up some steamed rice and placing a few pieces of smoked mackerel on top. The heat of the rice would warm the smoked fish through. That resulted in smokey and fatty tasting flakes of fish, best enjoyed with some “Jeow Bong”. A remedy for a quick fix when you were hungry, or in our case, living on a tight budget.

Mackerel is much underrated. In my opinion it should get more attention on restaurant menus. It is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce cholesterol levels, but above all, its tasty and cheap.

When we think of smoking (no, not cigarettes, pipes or weed!), there are two techniques. Hot and Cold. Not only is smoking a way of preserving foods, it also imparts a wonderful aroma and taste.

Cold smoking basically involves applying smoke to food without heat. Hot smoking, as the name suggests, involves applying smoke and heat, thereby cooking the food.

Many types of ingredients can be smoked, meats, fowl, vegetables, fish etc.. Mackerel is a great protagonist because of its oiliness.

Smoking foods at home is pretty easy, just make sure that you have enough ventilation to avoid setting off your smoke alarms!

I use rice and a few other ingredients to generate the smoke, but if you can get your hands on some wood chips, even better!.

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Get the mackerel cleaned and filleted, make sure you remove all the pin bones.

Salting the fish draws out moisture and allows the smoke to better penetrate the flesh.

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Spread some salt flakes and some sugar on a dish and place the fillets skin side down, then sprinkle some more salt flakes over the fish and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

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Meanwhile, get your smoker ready. In this case I use a large pan lined with tin foil, this not only saves on cleaning, it also helps save the pan!

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To produce the smoke I use some uncooked rice, coriander seeds, star anis, ginger and some broken up cinnamon sticks. You could use wood chips or even tea leaves.

The pan is placed on high heat whilst I wash and pat dry the fish fillets.

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Olive oil is sprinkled on a dish and the fillets placed skin side down. This ensures that the fish doesn´t stick to the wire racks, the fish is then seasoned with a little salt and freshly milled black pepper.

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By now the rice and other ingredients are starting to release smoke. Scrunched up balls of tin foil will help support my wire racks.

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Once a good smoke is achieved, its time to lower the heat.

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The fillets are placed on to wire racks and carefully placed in the pan on top of the balls of tin foil.

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The pan is then covered with a lid. It takes about 5 to 7 minutes of gentle smoking to achive a juicy succulent fillet, which can be eaten immediatley or stored in the fridge for a few days.

On this occassion I am smoking them for a little longer because I have other uses for the mackerel.

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These fillets have been smoked for 10 minutes, which gives them a stronger smokey taste.

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Whats left behind is nice and charred. Preparing the pan lined with foil makes cleaning so much easier, and is much kinder to your pan.

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The fillets are allowed to cool then flaked.

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I wanted to make some “Rillettes”, so some finely chopped shallots and garlic are sweated in a pan with some butter. Once translucant, the mackerel flakes are added.

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After a minute or so of stirring, I added some (well, quite a bit) of butter. Once the butter had melted, I added a few spoonfuls of stock, made from the mackerel bones and some chopped fresh coriander.

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Everything is gently stirred until well combined, then removed from the pan and allowed to cool before being chilled.

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Later it is served up with some Cashew, Hibiscus and Nori Cheese with some toasts as a small starter.

It tasted so good (though I would say that!), I even caught the Service staff sneaking a few pieces…..

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I am watching you!

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3 thoughts on “Smoking

  1. Mr. Lao,

    Thank you very much. I enjoyed your smoking and learned a lot from your article.
    Thank you for sharing your cooking skill, I think I can use it to smoke other food items like homemade bacon or ham. I will try your Rillettes of Smoked Mackerel which I will surely love to spread on my breakfast toasts or better use as an appetizer dip.

    Have a nice day always.

         
          

  2. Hi Presentacion and Kyle, and thank both of you for your comments.
     
    It really “is that easy”, just make sure you keep the window open. I also use this method for smoking Tuna, Iberian Pork and Duck Breasts.
     

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