How to smoke fish (and other food)

Instructive pictures

On this page you can find two recipes for smoked fish: Hot-smoked salmon with dill-mustard sauce, and Chinese hot-smoked cod with cilantro-mustard sauce. (Yes, mustard goes well with smoked foods!). If you have never smoked food before, please read this page on the technique of smoking first. And here is the recipe for whole smoked chicken.

Hot-smoked salmon with dill-mustard sauce

Instructive pictures on the technique of smoking food can be found here.
For 4 persons as a main dish, for 8 persons when served as a first course. (Dutch version)
Printout version

Smoked salmon with dill-mustard sauceIngredients
For dry-curing
225 gram (1 cup) coarse sea salt
50 gram (1/3 cup) yellow or brown castor sugar
some sprigs of dill, lemon peel, and crushed white peppercorns
600 to 800 gram (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) fillet of salmon, with the skin (but descaled)
Dill-mustard sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. colourless vinegar
1 decilitre (1/2 cup) neutral oil (sunflower, arachide)
1 decilitre (1/2 cup) sour cream
1 handful of finely chopped dill leaves
white pepper, freshly ground
salt to taste

Preparation in advance
Curing - Before smoking the salmon it has to be cured. Mix the sea salt with sugar, dill, lemon peel and pepper. Rub the fish fillets with this mixture, place them in a glass bowl covered with plastic foil, and leave them in the refrigerator for 40 minutes.
Then rinse the fish carefuly with cold running water, pat it dry, and leave to dry for at least two hours.
Sauce - Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining mustard, sugar, sour cream and vinegar in a blender. Turn it on until the mixture is blended. Leave the blender on, and add the oil in a thin trickle until it has the consistency of mayonnaise. Put the sauce in a bowl and add the dill. Bring to taste with salt and pepper. Keep in the refrigerator until using it. This sauce is served cold or at room temperature.

Prepare your smoker. Cover the bottom with a sheet of aulminium foil, sprinkle one topped tablespoon sawdust on the sheet of foil. On this you place the dripping tray with the oiled grid. The salmon fillet is placed with skin down on the grid. Close the smoker and place it on a burner or the stove with not too much heat. It takes 30 to 45 minutes until the salmon is done, depending on how rare you want your fish, and how thick the fillets are. (see also the page on technique)
When you open the smoker, make sure to do that either under the working range hood or outside (smoke, remember?).

To serve
Hot-smoked salmon tastes best when served warm. Serve with the dill-mustard sauce, or a vinaigrette or another sauce.

Hot-smoked cod with cilantro-mustard sauce

In this case the fish will not be dried before smoking, because it is steamed after curing, before smoking. Instructive pictures on the technique of smoking food in a wok can be found here.
For 3 to 4 persons as main dish. (Dutch version)
Printout version

Smoking ingredients

10 gram (1/4 cup) black tea leaves (dried, fermented tea, p.e. Oolong)
20 gram (2 Tbsp.) uncooked rice
20 gram (2 Tbsp.) brown sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed szechuan-pepper corns
1 stick of cinnamon, broken in pieces
1 piece of dried orange or mandarin peel
1 tsp. sesame oil
Brine for 500 gram/1 pound fish fillets
1/2 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine or medium sweet sherry
1 Tbsp. soy sauce (Kikkoman, the Japanese)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 spring onion, cut and crushed
1 slice fresh ginger, crushed and coarsely chopped
fillet of cod or salmon or whatever
Take 50 gram (2 ounces) per person in a large menu, 150 gram (6 ounces) as a main dish

Preparation in advance
Mix everything for the brine and rub the fish with it. Leave it for one hour at room temperature, or two in the refrigerator. Then take the fish out of the brine and place it on a small grid that fits in a steamer. Do not use a bamboo steamer unless you use that for smoking purposes only, because the bamboo will retain a smoky flavour forever. Bring water to the boil, steam the fish for about six minutes.
You can either proceed with smoking at once, or let the fish cool on the grid and keep it in the refrigerator untill you need it.

First you prepare the pan. Cover the pan or wok crosswise with two layers of aluminium foil (shiny side up). Cover the lid the same way. Take care that the sheets are longer then the pan, let the excess foil hang over on the outside (the same with the cover). Sprinkle the smoking fuel on the bottom, spread evenly. Place the fish (still on on the grid on which it was steamed) in the pan, without a leaking tray. Use some small cans which have been opened at both sides to place the grid on. Place the pan/wok on a heat source, wait until smoke starts to develop. Then lower the fire and close the pan with the lid, and krinkle the foil of pan and lid together, leaving a small opening to check the smoke development (there has to be some smoke, but not an entire chimney's worth).
Seven minutes later take the pan off the fire. Leave it for another five minutes. Then open it under the working range hood or outside. Open the lid away from you. Remove the grid with the fish from the pan. Fold the alufoil into itself, and throw away (in the garbage container outside).

To serve
This can be served either hot or at room temperature, with the following sauce.

Cilantro-mustard sauce
This sauce must be prepared in advance because it needs time to settle.
Cilantro (coriander) is to the Chinese cuisine what parsley is for the French cuisine: the 'evergreen'. Some people dislike the flavour of coriander. I was one of those once, but now I love it.

100 gram (1/4 cup) Dijon mustard
1 decilitre (1/4 cup) Chinese sesame oil or part sesame oil, part oil with a neutral taste
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
salt to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation in advance
Use only the leaves of the cilantro(the stems will make the sauce taste of grass). Chop the leaves finely.

Add everything but the chopped cilantro leaves and the oil to the blender. Turn it on, add the oil in a thin trickle, turn the blender off. Now add the coriander leaves.
Leave the sauce in the refrigerator for at least one whole night.
Stir the sauce well before serving. You can keep the sauce in the refrigerator for a week at least.

To serve
This sauce must be served at room temperature, so take care that you retrieve it from the refrigerator in time.

All descriptions of ingredients

Sesame oil - Meditteranean sesame oil is pressed from raw seeds, chinese sesame oil is pressed from toasted seeds, resulting in a stronger flavoured, darker oil. So take care that you use the right sesame oil. If you find the taste of Chinese sesame oil too overwhelming, you can temper it with a neutral oil. Buy a small bottle of sesame oil, the taste deteriorates once the bottle is openend.

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