Smoking fish is a method of preserving that is almost as old as civilisation. While we have no problem keeping food fresh these days with modern refrigerators and freezers, the taste of properly preserved, smoked fish is an exotic delicacy.
I added ''properly preserved'' because there are modern, industrial short cuts in the smoking process that are cost-effective but don't come close to the real thing.
There are two main ways of smoking fish: cold and hot.
Cold smoking involves curing the fish first, usually using salt only or a combination of salt and sugar. The fish fillets are left in contact with the cure for a few hours, then washed and put into a smoking chamber separate from the smoke-generating heat source.
The cold smoke is fed into the chamber via a pipe for an extended period. The fish is cured rather than cooked.
Hot smoking can begin with curing but it's not necessary. The fish fillets are hung in a smoking chamber that also contains the source of heat and smoke. This is a quicker method but it's important to control the temperature and time ratio.
Cold-smoked fish is used at room temperature, while the hot-smoked can be cooked, but only a little.
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