We are used to mainly frying, boiling and baking fish. Some salted good red fish at home. But fish is smoked much less often, although everyone loves to eat smoked fish. Smoking fish, of course, requires certain skills, time and adaptations. However, the result is always amazing. It is easiest to smoke fish hot. Those who are seriously engaged in hot smoking have special smokehouses. For those who are not so often thirsty to taste their own smoked fish, a simple iron bucket with a lid will be enough. But first things first.
You can smoke fish right on the fishing trip, on a hike or in the country. The main thing is to have branches of fruit trees, juniper or alder at hand. For smoking, you should choose fish of approximately the same size. Whether or not to gut and clean the fish is a private matter of the smoker. If you do not really like to be distracted during a meal, it is better to clean and gut the fish before smoking. Then the fish is covered with coarse salt and left until brine appears. Salting will take a maximum of 3 hours. After the salted fish is washed and hung, it wilts a little. Dried fish carcasses are abundantly greased with vegetable oil and placed on the grates of the smokehouse. The fish should not touch each other.
A few words about smokehouses
A smokehouse in general is a hermetically sealed stainless steel container, at the bottom of which branches or sawdust are laid out, which will give off smoke. One or more fish racks are placed higher in the smokehouse. It is not necessary to make a very high smokehouse, otherwise the fish on the lower grill will be “smoked”, and on the upper grill it will be raw. Handles are required, with the help of which the smokehouse can be put on the fire (in the fire) and removed from the fire. As for the branches, every smoker has his own opinion on this matter. Some people like alder, others like willow, others recognize only apple and plum branches, and still others smoke with juniper shavings.
We start to smoke
The smokehouse is loaded and placed on the hearth (on the fire, on the tile). This action should take place in the open air, otherwise the apartment can be ugly smoky. As soon as white smoke appeared from under the lid of the smokehouse, you should know that the process began, the fish began to smoke. Therefore, reduce the heat a little so that the smoke comes in a very small stream. During smoking, it is better not to remove the lid from the smokehouse, otherwise there is a possibility that all the twigs and shavings inside the smokehouse will flare up, and you will end up with not smoked fish, but burnt fish. When finished smoking, remove the smoker from the heat and leave to cool. As soon as the smoke from under the lid has ceased to go, open the smokehouse and get out a dark golden, fragrant fish. Large fish are smoked for about 50 minutes, small fish – half an hour, or even less.
Cold smoking: a lesson for the professianals
Cold smoked fish is even tastier than hot smoked fish, but there is much more fuss with it. Firstly, the fish should not only be salted, but also soaked and then dried. Secondly, cold smoking requires not a mobile smokehouse, but a stationary one. And it will take much more time.
Before cold smoking, the fish is salted in a more saturated salt solution, and kept in it longer – from three days small and up to two weeks large. Then the fish is soaked in cold water for about a day and hung to dry. The fish should dry out for about 3-5 days. To prevent insects from contaminating it, the fish is loosely wrapped in gauze. The dried fish is placed in a special cold smoking chamber. There it remains for 2-6 days, smoked with cold smoke, the temperature of which should not exceed 25 ° C. The source of smoke is the same sawdust and shavings, only they smoke at a great distance from the fish, and the smoke enters the smoking chamber through a pipe.
Smoked fish is always a table decoration, but remember: if cold-smoked fish can be stored on a shelf in the refrigerator for ten days without any problems, then hot-smoked fish should be eaten within three days, or put in the freezer. Frozen, this fish is edible for two to three months.