Delicious smoke cooking
You can use Mustang smokers to smoke-cure practically anything, from meat to vegetables and cheeses. However, the most popular ingredient for smoke-curing is fish: cooked to a golden brown, its aroma alone is mouth-watering.
When smoke-curing fish, choose any of the fatty species, such as Baltic herring, vendace, whitefish, salmon, or flounder.
Smoker box and wood chips – all you need to start
The basic tool of a smoker is the smoker box. The wood chips are placed on the bottom of the box. To add flavour, you can also add some juniper sprigs, blackcurrant leaves, or hickory wood chips for that American-style finish. For beautiful colour, put a couple of lumps of sugar in the bottom of the box.
Place the pre-prepared fish on the smoker box grate. Put a grease tray under the grate to catch the liquid dripping from the fish during cooking. Close the box and place it on a grill ember or fireplace. Avoid extensive heat so as not to dry the fish. Even with big fish, the recommended temperature is well below 100 degrees Celsius. Electric and gas smokers have the advantage of precise temperature control.
When smoke-curing fish, choose any of the fatty species – Baltic herring, vendace, whitefish, salmon, or flounder. Remove the entrails and gills. Scaling is not required – in fact, the scales keep the fish moister. Rub coarse salt on the fish and leave to season in a cold place. Half an hour is enough for small fish, medium-sized fish require two or three hours. Leave the biggest ones to season overnight. Baltic herring and vendace can also be salted afterwards by dipping the freshly-cured fish in strong salt water.
Carefully wipe the salt off the fish before smoke-curing. Apply some oil to the skin to prevent the fish from sticking to the grate. You can add some flavour to big fishes by putting dill or chives in the stomach. The fish is ready when the fins pull off easily and the flesh is opaque and firm. Do not overfill the smoker – that leads to a longer curing time and an uneven end result.
Remember that the smoker box will get hot during the curing. Use oven mitts when handling it. Oversee the entire curing process.