Cooking with smoked fish is a brilliant way to add flavour
We have a great and proud tradition of producing excellent smoked fish in Britain.
Historically, smoking fish was part of the preserving process, used as a way of keeping fish through the lean winter months, but nowadays we enjoy the flavour the smoking process gives.
All around the country – from Suffolk to Scotland – there are smokeries in which skilled smokers carry on this traditional craft, transforming raw fish into a distinctive smoked delicacy.
Fish can be hot smoked, a process which fully cooks the fish over smoke or cold smoked, which cures the fish over smoke.
Many smoked fish can be enjoyed eaten simply as they are, with a little bread and butter on the side and a touch of horseradish crème fraîche or a squeeze of lemon juice. They are also very nice to cook with, whether used to add flavour to a fish pie, transformed into pâté or used in pasta sauces and fishcakes.
Arbroath smokie: made from a headless, gutted small haddock these are a Scottish delicacy, traditionally hot smoked over peat smoke and sold in pairs. Eat an Arbroath smokie as it is or use it to make mousse or pâté.
Bloater: a lightly smoked whole herring, traditionally associated with Great Yarmouth. Grill them or fry them.
Buckling: a hot smoked, headless, ungutted herring, which needs no further cooking before eating.
Kipper: this classic British smoked fish, a traditional breakfast dish, is made by cold smoking whole herring, which have been split and gutted. Look out for that Northumbrian speciality the Craster kipper, produced in the coastal village of Craster and smoked over oak to give a rich, smoky flavour. Traditionally produced Manx kippers, from the Isle of Man, are also worth looking out for. To cook a kipper, either grill it or simply leave it in boiling water for a few minutes before eating. You can also use kippers to make tasty kipper pâté.
Smoked eel: considered a delicacy, this is made by cold or hot smoking whole eel. Bear in mind when serving it that as it has a very rich flavour and texture, a small portion goes a long way.
Smoked haddock: cold smoked haddock, traditionally used in classic dishes such as kedgeree or Omelette Arnold Bennett. Look out for uncoloured smoked haddock, pale gold in colour, as it has a better flavour than the deep yellow dyed smoked haddock. Finnan haddock is made by cold smoking a whole haddock with the head removed and split open.
Smoked mackerel: made by hot smoking mackerel, this can be eaten cold, as it is, or used in cooking. If you’re making it into a pâté, then I recommend adding a little touch of creamed horseradish, as it cuts nicely through the richness of the mackerel.
Smoked salmon: made by smoking whole salmon, smoked salmon was traditionally a luxury, although the rise of salmon farming has made it much more available and far cheaper than it used to be. A whole side of smoked salmon, however, remains a wonderful sight on a buffet table.
Smoked trout: cold smoked trout has a delicate flavour and texture and is delicious as a simple starter or used in pâté. Hot smoked trout has a richer flavour and texture and can be eaten as it is or used for cooking.