I think it’s safe to say that I’m not an outdoorsy person. Hiking (or tramping, as NZers call it) and camping passed me by entirely in my childhood and adulthood. The only time I’ve ever properly camped somewhere in a tent without toilets and running water, was during our trip to Africa, and that was only two nights – the rest of the time we were at camping grounds with hot showers (thank goodness). Even with that, I was SO HAPPY at the end when we stayed in a swanky hotel with a bed! And privacy! And air conditioning! The truth is: I’m a bit of a princess. I like dresses and heels and makeup and regular hot showers. Okay, so maybe I’m quite the princess. 😀
The theme for this month’s Meal to Share is outdoors, and I just want you to keep my introductory paragraph in mind when I tell you what I’ve made. What is Meal to Share? It’s a collaboration where Celeste, Penny and I each cook a course – so don’t forget to check out their posts to see the rest of the meal.
Starter made by Penny – Sausage with radish, baby leeks, celery, pear and topped with pretz
Main made by me – Hot smoked ocean trout
Dessert made by Celeste – Ice cream sandwich with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce topping
I hope that you’ve taken the time to check out Penny’s starter because she made it while she was on holiday. Amazing, right?
And as for me, I did mains for this meal, and when I started thinking about the theme, I thought about cooking something that you might make when camping. But… see my first paragraph about my lack of camping experience. I am definitely not an expert in camping cooking!
So instead I made something that has to be cooked outdoors (unless you enjoy your house smelling like smoke).
Inspired by my MIL and step-FIL, the awesomely awesome Annette and Terry, I recently purchased a portable smoker after they cooked us a meal of delicious smoked salmon when we were over in the UK.
In “hot smoking”, food is exposed to smoke and heat and is cooked, while things that are “cold smoked” are kept at a much lower temperature for longer and the food is not cooked during the process. The little smoker I purchased is quite simple – it’s an elevated metal box that has a little metho spirit burner underneath. Smoking sawdust/ wood chips goes inside the box, and the food is placed on racks above it. The heat of the burner causes the sawdust/chips to smoke, and the heat and smoke rises up through the food.
Here’s a photo of the inside of the box with the fish inside – I didn’t put down much sawdust (you don’t need much) but you can just see it underneath. After I closed up the box, and lit the little plate of methylated spirits, I left it alone to smoke for about 30 minutes.
And the result: delicious smoked ocean trout fillets. They were tender and flakey, and were infused with the scent and flavour of the wood (I used sheoak). It was incredibly delicious and now I’m super keen to see what else I can smoke!
Now that you’ve seen my main, don’t forget to check out Celeste’s post for dessert.
Hope that you’ve enjoyed this month’s Meal to Share – we’ll be back in January with a different theme. The first Meal to Share can be found here.
Hot smoked ocean trout
This is a guide more than anything – it’s so easy! You can choose to brine or not brine. I brined two pieces, and left two unbrined to see which one I preferred. Brining will make the fish saltier (obviously) but apart from that there didn’t seem to be that much difference. In the future, if I have time I will brine, and if not there I won’t bother.
You will need:
Ocean trout – or other fish
Enough brine to cover the fish – made up of 2 & 1/2 tablespoons salt per cup of water
If you’re brining, make the brine by dissolving 2 & 1/2 tablespoons of salt per cup of water. You can also add additional flavourings/spices/herbs to the brine if you desire. Make up enough brine to cover the fish. Place the fish in the brine for 15 minutes per 2.5cm of thickness (eg if the fillets are 5cm thick, leave it in for 30 minutes). After the brining period, take the fish out and rinse under clean water. Pat dry.
Set up the smoker by placing a thin layer of smoking sawdust/chips inside and filling the burner plate with methylated spirits. Place the fish on a rack above the sawdust/chips. Cover the box and light the methylated spirits underneath. Leave it to smoke until it goes out.
Serve with salad. Fish that has been brined won’t need any additional salt.