>> Friday, October 30, 2009
I love salmon, especially smoked. Some time ago we were lucky to be served a delicious homemade hot-smoked salmon by my brother-in-law H., who's a great cook. Home hot-smoking? I even hadn't any idea that such a thing as hot-smoking existed. So my little children, if you're as little informed as I was, I warn you that there are two techniques for smoking fish: hot- and cold-smoking, with utterly different results. H. explained to me that he used some kind of gadget he had bought in Sweden, along with a bag of sawdust, for smoking... but, I don't know... Sweden is not on my way, I'm too busy today... Nevertheless I had been so deeply impressed by the hot-smoked salmon that I had to find some way to make it.
Here's a short explanation on the fish smoking subject, from this web site:
The preservation of fish has been an integral part of every seafaring culture. Over the course of thousands of years of drying, salting and smoking fish the technique has developed to a point where once common food has become a delicacy. In this article let's look at hot smoked fish. Cold smoking requires temperatures of around 80 degrees F. for several days. Hot smoking however can be done at temperatures of up to 200 degrees F. and only takes a few hours. It is best to start with a saltwater brine. The brining process is quick so don't worry about having to start out the day before. Plan on the fish being in the brine for about 15 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness. Also plan on 1 quart of brine per pound of fish.On my quest for the best way to hot-smoke fish at home, I happened to find a recipe for tea-smoking in an Argentinian blog, here. And I said to myself: if she can do it, you can do it. Therefore I opted for a delicate tea-smoking instead of the sawdust smoking (sawdust? what a lack of distinction). Using tea leaves for smoking food seems to be an ancient Chinese technique. Besides I had a bag of green tea in my pantry. I had bought it because of its antioxidizing action, so that I could antioxidize myself... Unfortunately I was stopped by a recurrent issue: no matter how many times I try it, I-don't-like-tea. So there was the tea, quietly resting without exerting any antioxidizing power on me... So this would be a good opportunity to get rid of it (do burnt antioxidants do any good?). You only need a deep pan or casserole with a tight lid, I guess a wok would be great.
Line the pan or casserole with aluminum foil. Sprinkle a layer of rice, sugar and tea. Put a circle of aluminum foil on top, so that the rice, sugar, tea mixture is covered. Salt the fish thoroughly. The best thing is to rest the fish on a grid or rack that fits into the container, so that the fish oil can drip and the smoke contact surface is larger. I didn't have any, so I laid the pieces on the foil. Then cover the pan and put on the heat on medium. You'll soon start noticing smoke spirals (if your pan has a glass lid like mine). My fish took around 20 minutes to cook, although the time depends on the thickness of the pieces. The fish is cooked and aromatized at the same time. And trust me, the result is worthwhile, the tea gives the fish a wonderful flavor. The only disadvantage is that a nice burnt smell pervades the whole house... maybe my pieces of fish took a bit too long to cook and the rice burnt completely. I'll make smaller pieces next time. I'm sure my neighbours were on the verge of calling the fire brigade. Well, maybe it would be a good chance to make friends...
My brother-in-law served this salmon with some mayonnaise on a toast... but the possibilities are endless. I had some after preparing it with just some soft-fried potatoes, nothing more... simple and delicious.