“Stan Soroka learnt about smoking from a very early age. His father was born in Poland, studied to be a doctor and immigrated to Australia after the Second World War, settling with his young family on a self-sufficient farm in Victoria, where smoking food was one of the essentials of life.
Stan is a great believer that anyone can smoke food and says the simplest device – a $50 smoker from a sports or camping store – is all you need. The process is fairly simple and one of the keys to success is getting the best, freshest fish – “no more than 4 days old, otherwise the flavour’s not there”.
Stan only hot smokes, as he believes the shelf life is longer and the flavour is better. A simple brine is important and then the air-drying to set up the pellicle. Stan’s delicious hot smoked fish recipe involves both smoking and cooking the fish. You will need to brine or salt the fish first to extract moisture.” Maeve O’Meara, Food Safari Fire
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) yellowtail kingfish fillet, skin on
- olive oil spray, to oil the cooking racks
- 400 g (14 oz) salt
- 200 g (7 oz) dark brown sugar
- 2 litres (68 fl oz/8 cups) water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need a portable fish smoker, some methylated spirits and a heaped tablespoon of European oak woodchips – or other hardwood timber chips – but ensure they have been dried out.
To make the brine, mix the salt, sugar and water in a large container. Place the fish fillet in the brine and leave for an hour. (This will add flavour and keep the fish moist.)
Wash the brine off the fish fillet and dry well with a paper towel. (This will help to develop the tacky pellicle to which the smoke will adhere.) (See Note)
In a portable fish smoker, half-fill the burners with methylated spirits and light them. In the bottom of the portable fish smoker pan, spread a heaped tablespoon of oak woodchips.
Place the tray above the wood (the smoke will infuse around the sides of the tray).
Then place an oiled cooking rack over the top of the tray.
Place the fish fillets on the rack skin-side down. Cover with the lid and wait for 45–50 minutes.
Keep the smoke ventilator on your portable smoker open (otherwise, the smoke stays in the smoker and gets acrid).
You can check the temperature with a food thermometer: 55–60°C (130–140°F) in the thickest part of the fillet is optimum.
Once ready, serve with rye bread and a crisp salad.
This smoked fish can be kept for 2–3 days in the refrigerator.