Smoking

Posted on Aug 08 2017

Hi Folks.

Do you ever get the feeling that ad word are deceptive, intentionally? Take the one I have used here. What were your first thoughts. The cigareete would be my guess and rightly so but, it would be wrong. The subject for this blog is Food. Eh? Food? Yep! have you noticed lately how smoking is making a huge revival? Well it is here in the UK, perhaps if you have the time you could drop me a line and let me know the trends where you are. Food and wine are favourite subjects of mine.

I’ve noticed that the rich and deeper flavour attributed to smoking is not just attributed to fish and meat but now its also to vegetables, shellfish and spices. Evidence is there on the shelves in supermarkets that vary from the food lightly coated in oak flavours to the authentic foods. The difference is not hard to find while scanning the shelves, just look for the price! In days gone by smoking was a means of preserving foods and perhaps in frozen lands it is still practiced but you know, you can do it at home and its interesting to do so especially if you are into cooking.

Lets consider the methods of which there are two. Cold and hot. For cold smoking the food is dried and infused with cool smoke while with hot smoking the food is cooked in hot smoke.  But before smoking unprocessed food has to be cured. This achieves two things. It removes excess moisture and creates a surface that the smoke can stick to. In addition it provides an opportunity to add flavouring through spices. Its a bit like preparing a fowl for roasting. So to cure, first clean the surface of the food then rub on salt and sugar and leave for say five minutes for a mackerel fillet, fourty minutes for a 500g salmon fillet. But there is an alternative and that is to immerse the food in salt water brine and leave for roughly 12 hours per kilo weight. When done remove from the brine, pat dry and you are ready for smoking.

Smoking: Cold smoking foods are for example salmon, garlic, cheese and spices. This is a more complicated method than hot smoking as the smoke has to be cooled before reaching the food and so the cooking must be done outside, not in the kitchen, and you need to build a smoker. Wood chips are the fuel and they need to smoulder in the bottom of a container, then the smoke has to be channelled through a tube or pipe long enough to allow time for it to cool down before entering the smoke chamber. This chamber can be a quite simple wooden box structure with a vent at the bottom to control the air flow and wire racks suspended inside from which the foods are suspended. If you are a DIY handyman then this can be fun.

Hot smoking is best done outside as the smoke disperses easily but it can be done on a hob in the kitchen. Some cook shops sell ready made hot smokers that make life easy but if you don’t have one then use an old saucepan. Here’s how. Place a layer of woodchips, etc, on the bottom of the pan with a wire rack set 10cm above and heat until they start to smoulder, then turn the heat down and place your meet/fish or whatever on the rack. That done then cover with a lid and leave to cook. Problem is-the smoke, well its not a problem if you like your house or apartment smelling of smoked food for days on end. Hey, and you could set the alarm off as well, that is if you have one, so best outside eh? Foods – like trout, salmon, mackerel, steak or chicken.

Its all good fun if you have the time end enjoy cooking. The alternative is of course to let the professionals do it while you sit in their restaurant mulling over a wee glass or two. We often hear of gourmet restaurants in France but for me they are matched by those in Belgium, a country in which I resided for a while and lived to enjoy some very, very delightful offerings. In fact I am contemplating taking my youngest there in say a month or so to visit the lovely city of Ghent and show her the place where daddy built and managed a restaurant. If you have never been to either Ghent or the other attractive cities in the country then take my advice and put it on your TO Do list for places to see.

That’s me done for now, so remember, keep reaching for the stars and may all your wishes and dreams come true.

ht


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