Hot or cold smoke—you decide

Last week I gave you a recipe for a light brine and explained how to get fish or meat ready for smoking. I promised that this week I would share a recipe for “topping” and here it is:

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. ground allspice

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Method:

Spread the topping over the fish or meat until it is well covered.

You can add a bit of juice or water if you like and you can double or triple the recipe if you like—or if you need more topping. Put the racks in the smoker and leave until the meat is completely smoked. With a cold smoke, this could take several days. With a hot smoke—the kind most beginners and amateurs are well advised to use—the smoking should be done in hours.

The major difference in the two methods is the distance the fire is from the product being smoked. For example, a wheelbarrow, a back yard barbecue, a cardboard box covered in foil or an old refrigerator are all fairly good smokers for hot smoking food, since it is actually cooked by heat. But in order to do a cold smoke you need to get the food further away from the heat.

An old shed, and unused garage or a large plywood box (set up at least ten feet from the fire) are all excellent for setting up a cold smoker. If you set up a smoker at the top of a long grade, (20 feet or so) and let the smoke find its own draft up a stove pipe about that long, so it takes some time to reach the smoker, you can expect excellent results.

What can you smoke? Well, the usual to be sure: meat, poultry, fish and game for starters. If you want to get a bit more exotic: frog’s legs, boiled eggs, jerky, vegetables (smoked asparagus is fantastic), and seafood such as clams, oysters or lobsters, smoked cheese, nuts, seeds. You can even smoke such goodies as octopi, shrimp or prawns—and don’t forget the plain old table salt: sodium chloride. It’s simply wonderful for seasoning just about anything once it is well smoked.

One last item to be considered is the kind of wood you use in your smoker. At the Albion Ferry terminal we used hickory or alder chips since they were easy to get. But in my own smokers I always used alder for several reasons. First of all, there is no shortage of alders in BC. Secondly, it does a great job of smoked foods. Finally, it imparts an excellent flavour to smoked foods of all kinds and is easy to use. I like to peel my alder, as it improves the flavour considerably.

See Ya Next Week!