HOT-SMOKED FISH - KIWI STYLE
This is an easy and tasty way to make the most out of a fish. I have used a Snapper but you can smoke just about any fish that will fit in your smoker. One smoked fish, of about 2 to 3 pounds, hot out of the smoker, will easily feed 6 to 8 hungry mates as a starter or 4 as a main. Serve with Crackers or some fresh buttered bread and an Ice-cold beer. Or you can flake the smoked fish, once cooled, into a parsley sauce, cover with mashed potato and bake in the oven for a fantastic Fisherman's Pie. Personally I love to use the flaked smoked fish in pies or fish cakes, but it is so good straight out of the smoker that I rarely have any left to flake. If you have more self-control than me the left over fish will keep, covered in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Hot smoking does not cure the fish like cold smoking does so it will not extend the shelf life of the fish.
- 1 fish, head and guts removed.
- Dried Dill
- Brown Sugar
- Salt and Pepper
- Sawdust or wood chips
To butterfly your fish lay it on a flat surface, lift the belly flap and cut through the rib cage as close to the spine as you can. Run the knife along the rib cage and then all the way down the fish toward the tail, cutting through the flesh and using the spine as a guide. Do not cut all the way through the skin. This sounds complicated but is very easy and hopefully you will get a good idea from the photograph.
Once the fish is butterflied sprinkle over a hand-full of brown sugar and lightly rub it in to the flesh. Then sprinkle over plenty of salt, and then some Dill, or any other herb you like with fish and finish with a good grind of pepper. Allow the fish to marinate while you prepare the smoker.
Line the smoker with aluminum foil and sprinkle a hand-full of Sawdust or fine wood chips over the foil. I use Manuka sawdust as it is the Kiwi favorite, but you can use any wood you like as long as it is not chemically treated wood. Some good ones to try are Hickory, Oak, Apple and Pear wood. Do not use Pine unless you want your fish to taste like Retsina! You can also add Green tea or dried herbs to the sawdust to add even more flavour.
Place your fish on the rack and into the smoker. Dot the fish with small dots of butter if you like, or you could sprinkle with a little whiskey, but it seems a waste to me!
Put the lid on the smoker and put the smoker over a heat source, mine sits over two metal pie dishes that I fill with Methylated Spirits and light with a long match, but you can use a hot BBQ if you want.
A fish of up to about 3 to 4lb will take about 15 to 20 minutes to cook. A fish of 5 to 6 lb will take about 5 minutes more. Do not lift the lid of the smoker while the fish is cooking or you will lose some of the smoky flavor. Once done carefully remove the fish from the smoker onto a large platter or plate, with some lemon wedges.
Obviously the fish has all the bones in, so if serving hot, warn your guests that they will have to deal with the bones as they go. If you are smoking the fish to use flaked then you can remove the bones as you flake it.
Experiment with different woods, or different herbs, more or less sugar and more or less marinating time until you get the perfect smoke for your taste. The experimenting is half the fun of hot smoked fish; the other half is sharing a fantastic meal with friends and neighbors.
All the best,