Food Survival

How To Make Scottish-Style Smoked Fish

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Happy New Year, Survivors! It has only been a few hours since we sang (or mumbled) this song to bid farewell to 2018 and say hello to the New Year. To pay homage to Robert Burns, the Scotsman who penned the poem, let’s go and give this Scottish smoked fish recipe a try.

Commonly called an Arbroath Smokie, this delicacy originated fromΒ Arbroath (hence the name) in Angus, Scotland. We Americans have a lot of Celtic blood running in our veins and fought against the English for the sake of freedom β€” it only seems appropriate that we learn a dish this New Year in the very spirit of freedom and brotherhood.

This method is as basic as you can get, the only goal is to impart the fish with that perfect smoky flavor. The original Scottish method requires you to dig a hole in the ground, put in a special barrel, and smoke your haddock there.

The traditional fish used inΒ Arbroath Smokie is haddock, but cod or any oily fish like salmon or trout is also an option. In the end, it really is up to you!

Build The Smoker

Before you even think of starting a fish-smoking project, you have to have a smoker first. Dig a hole into the earth wide and deep enough to accommodate a steel barrel (or any metal or heat-resistant container you don’t mind getting blackened by tar).

Situate a number of racks on top of the barrel and assess if it’s too high or too low from the source of fire. If the fish you hang is too high, then it’ll take longer to make. If it hangs too low, the fish will scorch and overcook β€” possibly, even burn.

Cure The Fish

Prepare your fish by heading, gutting, and cleaning it thoroughly. Tie the fish by the tail in pairs, making sure they both face the same way.

Salt the fish liberally to cure it, then hang it to dry overnight (up to 24 hours) to draw out the moisture. You can also put it in the fridge, but make sure the fish is uncovered to dry up nicely. Make sure to pat dry any moisture that accumulates on the fish β€” the drier the fish, the less it’ll sweat while getting smoked.

Light Up Your Smoker

To make sure you’re smoking efficiently, you need to make sure that your wood is burning to produce smoke. As soon as you achieve that, you’ll need to seal the barrel to trap the smoke inside, making it permeate within the fish. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area, and not downwind of that neighbor who likes to sue everyone.

Hang the fish by the tail on the rack, just evenly-spaced enough so that they don’t stick together when cooked. As soon as you put the racks with the fish in the barrel, cover the entire thing with wet jute sacks (and if you don’t have those, wet cheesecloth will have to suffice). The cover should be wet to prevent it from burning, and it also facilitates an extremely hot, humid, and smoky environment for the fish. The fish is ready to eat after half an hour of smoking.

It’s a great way to cook fish, and a great way to eat fish.Β “For auld lang syne,” is loosely translated as “for the sake of old times.” Greet the this New Year with a bit of the old and start it right, Survivors!

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