There's No smoke without fish

Way back when, after our ancestors started using fire as a means of heat, they discovered the transformative effects of flames and smoke on meat. Not only did smoking bring great flavour, but it also preserved the food, which was, of course, essential for survival in primitive times.
 
These days, everyone's at it: from smoked beer, bourbon and vodka to cheddar, chocolate and yoghurt, the world has gone smoke mad! While cold-smoking is, without doubt, a complex and time-consuming process, the good news is that hot-smoking is totally achievable and easy to try at home with just an old biscuit tin and a wire rack.
 
While cold-smoking does not actually cook the product, hot-smoking does. If you're hot-smoking at home for the first time, then I would recommend starting with a simple fillet of fish, as it's quick to do and it's easy to tell when it is cooked.
 
While there are countless websites and great kitchen shops selling smoking equipment for home use, you can manage perfectly well with some basic things that you might already have kicking about in your house. A biscuit tin with a lid is brilliantly handy in place of a proper smoking box, and you'll need a metal rack to put into it. I use an old cooling rack that I cut and bent into shape so that it fits snugly inside.
 
You can, otherwise, use a wok with a rack sitting inside, but you'll need a lot of tinfoil to trap the smoke inside, which is why the biscuit tin is ideal, as it comes with its own lid.
 
Next, you need something to sprinkle into the base of the tin which, when put on the heat, will burn and create smoke. Wood shavings are the norm (order online or ask your local sawmills for something like oak, apple or cherry), but then you can start to experiment with tea leaves, rice and spices - now that's smokin'!
 

Rachel's Smoked Fish Recipes

 

Rachel's tip

If you'd prefer to smoke outdoors, then a barbecue is the answer. Make a a shallow bowl from tinfoil to hold the wood shavings. Place it on the coals under the rack.  Pop your fish or meat on, then cover it with a lid or an upturned metal bowl.
 

Rachel recommends

If you really want to get to grips with the whole food-smoking vibe,  there are a pile of books out there that are brilliantly informative and  super-inspiring too. Unsurprisingly, my first port of call would be  Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen, published by Kyle Cathie, which is the go-to tome for everything from how to keep hens, ducks and pigs to foraging, sausage-making and smoking.
 
There's also the Pitt Cue Co cookbook by Tom Adams and Jamie Berger, from the London-food-truck-turned-restaurant, published by Mitchell Beazley. It's full of great, American-inspired smoky recipes for meat, accompaniments and, incidentally, some fab cocktails too!
 

Shaneod May 18, 2015 News