British smoked fish is known as some of the best in the world. It is one of the industries in which even the smaller family-run businesses have been able to survive, such is the quality of production with both modern techniques and those used for several hundreds of years. British smoked fish is to be celebrated and it tastes amazing!
It is widely thought that the old traditional brick smokehouses still produce better flavoured smoked fish than the newer computerised kiln smokeries so look out for those producers using these old techniques, though only a handful of these traditional smokehouses remain.
Small producers throughout Scotland receive orders from all over the globe, and are featured in large supermarkets across the UK. That is not to say that only Scotland produces such quality, but an incredible amount of smoked fish still hails from this neck of the woods.
Fish can be hot smoked or cold smoked, hot smoking cooks the fish, while the cold smoking simply ‘cures’ it.
Some smokehouses will add other ingredients to their smoking process, such as whisky which is often used when smoking salmon. Hot smoking, the traditional way, can be done either over peat or a variety of woods depending on location of the smokehouse. Most British smoked fish nowadays is prepared over oak wood.
Salmon is our most popular smoked fish with over a million smoked salmon meals consumed in the UK every week. Smoked salmon is great served in slices as a starter or with scrambled eggs for brunch, but it is also used in a variety of recipes such as soups, quiches and pates. Click here for a great potato and leek soup recipe, it’s super easy to make.
Kippers are cold smoked herrings and make for a traditional British breakfast. The UK somewhat fell out of love with kippers, mainly due to the smell, which people found overwhelming and could sometimes ‘cling’ on in the house for days after being cooked! However, there’s now a large resurgence in popularity over the last few years with this old favourite re-appearing in restaurants and super markets up and down the country.
Smoked mackerel, can be found fresh at the fish counter, or vacuum packed, plain or peppered. The vacuum packed versions have a good shelf life if kept refrigerated. Smoked mackerel can be used in so many ways. It makes great sandwiches or can be used to make pates or added to quiches or tarts, fishcakes and salads or to hot pasta dishes such as carbonara. Make sure to remove all traces of skin and bones before serving.
Smoked haddock is very popular right now. It’s naturally off-white in colour but can be bought dyed. The dye is generally a vibrant yellow, it adds no additional flavour but certainly looks prettier on a plate or within a fish pie. It’s the key ingredient in the popular Anglo-Indian dish – Kedgeree.
For a quick and easy version of Kedgeree, sweat off some finely chopped onions with a couple of tablespoons of Flora Buttery add a couple of cardamom pods (split), turmeric, cinnamon stick, and a bay leaf and cook for about a minute. Add 300g of basmati rice and mix in really well so that the spread covers the rice, then pour in 350ml of boiling water and add a Knorr Chicken Stock Cube. Bring to the boil them simmer covered for 12 minutes. Whilst the rice is cooking add around 300g un-dyed smoked haddock to some boiling water and simmer gently for 3-5 minutes until the fish is just cooked. Now flake the fish and chop some fresh hard boiled eggs. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick from the rice, add the fish and the eggs and stir gently into the rice. Serve with some chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Delicious!
There are numerous other ways of cooking smoked haddock such as in omelettes, fish cakes, fritters or as a soup or chowder.
click here to try this great smoked haddock chowder.
Other smoked fish delicacies
There are many other smoked fish varieties to try. Smoked eel, smoked trout, smoked oysters and if you get the chance try out the very tasty and tender Arbroath Smokies – made with smoked haddock it has a fantastic smoky taste and is sometimes served in a light cheese sauce with lots of crusty bread. Enjoy!