While the undisputed champion of food smoking in my family is definitely my dad, New Zealand is an awfully long way from Munich when the craving for some delicious smoked fish hits. As I live in the city I also only have a tiny balcony, so no room for a dedicated smoker which means when I want to smoke food at home I have to get a bit creative.
The good news is that making home made, hot-smoked salmon is actually super easy, and with a simple trick, not actually very smoky! Here’s what you need to do: line a pot with tinfoil, mix some aromatic tea leaves with sugar and rice, place a rack over the smoking mixture and place some lightly cured salmon on top – with a tightly fitting lid and a bit of heat you are minutes away from succulent home smoked salmon.
What to do with your lovely home smoked salmon you ask? It’s delicious with poached eggs and hollandaise for an Eggs Benedict, perfect as part of a platter, or you could cook it up as I did today into a very moreish, creamy spaghetti – so good!
The type of tea you use is really up to you, I like to use Earl Grey as that’s what I often have in the house, but anything will do really, while Lapsang Souchong will impart an extra smoky flavour. This method of hot smoking also works well with other foods, chicken, duck or garlic will all work with varying smoking times.
Earl Grey Smoked Salmon
- 300-400 g salmon fillet, skin on
for the glaze:
- 1 Tbsp water
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- several grinds black pepper
for the smoking mixture:
- 2 Tbsp loose-leaf tea
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp rice
- Rinse the salmon fillet and pat dry with a paper towel. Place on a plate, then whisk together all of the glaze ingredients. Spoon over the salmon, then leave to cure for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line a wok or pan, large enough to hold a rack, with several long pieces of tin foil, leaving plenty of overhang. The pan you choose will need to have a tightly fitting lid. It’s going to get pretty smoky inside this pan, so don’t use your very best cookware, something cheap and cheerful is much better.
- Stir together the smoking mixture, then pour into the middle of the pot, spreading it out a little, but leaving it concentrated in the centre. Put a rack or a steamer insert over the top, and brush the rack with a little oil.
- Place the salmon fillet skin side down on the rack, then place the pot over high heat. When you see the first tendrils of smoke coming from the pot put the lid on, pressing down to create a seal, and folding the overhanging tin foil tightly around the edges to further seal the pan. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes, then turn ob the heat and allow to sit another 15 minutes to let the flesh really infuse with the smoke.
- In a well-ventilated area, carefully remove the lid - check to see the flesh is smoked enough for your taste (you can see how smoked it is by the colour of the flesh, the darker golden, orange it is the more intense the smoky flavour). If you’d like it to be a bit smokier simply seal the pan and return to high heat for another 5 minutes. Either use immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.
TIPS & TRICKS:
Sealing the lid tightly closed with tin foil will help to make sure your kitchen stays a smoke-free zone. Do keep a window open or have the fan on too though!
CREAMY SMOKED SALMON SPAGHETTI
If you fancy making the delicious smoked salmon pasta pictured below, put a big pot of salted water on to boil, cook 250g of spaghetti until al dente, reserve 200ml of the cooking water, then drain, return to the pan and stir through 1 Tbsp olive oil.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, and sauté 1 finely diced onion for 5 minutes until softened. Add 1 finely chopped clove of garlic and 1 tsp chilli flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add 150ml creme fraiche, ½ a tsp salt and some black pepper, stirring to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in the reserved pasta cooking water. Bring back to a simmer then turn off the heat.
Stir in 300g of flaked smoked salmon, 1-2 Tbsp of capers and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Toss the spaghetti through the sauce, sprinkle with some chopped chives or parsley, season to taste and serve immediately in warmed bowls. Yum!
You can make this sauce as spicy as you like! I like to use Turkish Pul Biber as my spicy paprika, again as it is delicious and easy to come by where I live, but any spicy paprika or mild chilli powder (not cayenne!) will do nicely. Taste as you go along and see what you like best.
The sauce will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, and can be frozen indefinitely.