Hot smoking is the rage in Canada and the US and its popularity is spreading like wildfire throughout Europe. Hot smoking adds wonderful flavour to even the blandest food and transforms fish such as salmon into a delightful and impressive summer barbeque dish.
Tempt your family and friends with well-tried and tested hot smoking ideas include salmon, trout, medium-sized prawns or shrimp, pork sausages (especially chipolatas) and even breast of chicken or Guinea fowl. And then there is cheese smoked over maple – but that’s a sublime treat for the next article.
You must have a BBQ with a cover. It can be traditional wood/charcoal, gas or even electric.
Whatever it is you want to smoke, the basic method is the same. First buy your plank. Red cedar from North America is best. In Switzerland you can buy them for an eye-watering CHF 20 for a pack of two from garden centres, home improvement stores and some supermarkets in the region. Or buy them online from Ricardo.ch for half that.
Weigh down and soak a plank in cold water for 60 minutes. Season your fish filet (keep the skin on), meat or vegetables with salt and black pepper as desired. Do not marinate your food in oil as this is likely to burn and diminish the smoked flavour. So use white wine, soy sauce or lemon juice instead. Other delicious marinate ingredients are honey and mustard.
Place the plank in your pre-warmed BBQ (if you are using a charcoal BBQ then make sure the coals are well burned down and flameless). Close the lid and then after 5 minutes place the food (fish should be placed skin side down) on the plank. Cook at a low-medium heat (200oC). Cooking times vary depending on food and recipe so use your judgement, however as a guide, a 500g salmon filet takes about 8 -10 minutes. Don’t worry if you do cook it a little too long – it won’t be ruined – that’s the beauty of hot smoking. Regularly check that the plank has not burst into flames but is merely happily smouldering and smoking. Have a water sprayer at the ready to extinguish any flames.
Garnish with lemon and fresh herbs such as dill for salmon, rosemary for lamb and oregano for beef. Serve on the plank for maximum BBQ Maestro effect!
After the feast you can use any leftovers to create a range of succulent dishes. Hot-smoked fish should be used with 24 hours. One simple and tasty dish is to crumble left-over fish into boiled pasta together with a handful of petits pois, some finely chopped dill and a few spoons of crème fraîche.
The board itself can sometimes be reused. Just wash with hot soapy water and use the reverse side. Old boards can be burned in charcoal barbecues (for additional flavour) or composted.