Smoking Food – Smoked Trout
The practice of smoking food has been around for centuries, originally used to preserve food for long periods of time. Today we smoke food mainly for the flavour, which adds an extra dimension to the braai.
If you do a bit of research on smoking food you may find that it looks intimidating, with large smoking machines and people talking about smoking food for 18 hours, watching it the whole time in case the fire goes out.
While this is great for ‘smoking aficionados’, it doesn’t suit us all. With the help of our foodie accountant, Karen, we smoked three trout and three pieces of brisket in just 20 minutes, and I can honestly say that it tasted wonderful.
The Difference Between Hot and Cold Smoking
This is the method we used in the recipes that follow. Hot smoking is simply a cooking method that uses heat and smoke to simultaneously cook and flavour the food. The food is eaten straight away or can be kept for a few days in the fridge.
This method takes a lot longer – often several days. The smoke is absorbed into the food at very low temperatures of around 20°C so that the food cures and does not cook at all. This method is preferred for preserving food for longer periods.
To try smoking our way you will need:
A contained smoking box – you can buy one online. This is a stainless steel box that comes with a grid or tray inside to place the food on, and a lid that seals in the smoke.
Sawdust or wood chips – available from braai shops and hardware stores. They come in different wood types and flavours for what you are cooking, such as meat or fish.
A heat source – we used a gas grill, but you can put the smoker on a fire or even on the kitchen stove top.
A piece of food to smoke, and about 20 – 30 minutes to do it in. You can smoke all sorts of food, including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables, nuts and cheese.
This is a great way for the trout fisherman out there to serve your catch, and leftovers make a good trout paté when mixed with cream cheese, capers, lots of black pepper and lemon juice. Non-fishermen can find trout at some fish shops either fresh or frozen.
3 whole trout, deboned
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 small red chilli, sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced