The easiest way to smoked fish at home is the hot smoking method. This involves cooking and smoking the fish simultaneously. If you can buy smoked ovens, it’s actually not very hard to DIY your very own smoker.
You basically need a large container and a matching lid. Place your wooden chips at the bottom of the container and cover with foil then make a few holes. Place a wire rack on top (where your fish will be) and cover with a lid or tightly place foil over the container. If you are smoking your fish indoors, make sure the room is well ventilated.
Oily fish is best for hot-smoking: try mackerel or salmon! Larger fish will take longer so you also need to consider the size of your fillets when smoking fish.
Before smoking, you will need to cure your fish for about 30 minutes. You can experiment with different flavours and spices but remember to not use too many flavours. To keep it simple you can rub your fish in coarse salt then rinse it well before cooking.
The principle of hot-smoking is to cook the fish slowly, at a low temperature and away from direct heat. Place your wooden chips in the bottom of your container and cover with foil, with a few holes so the smoke can escape. The fish should be placed on a rack, on top of the foil and covered with a lid so the smoke can surround the fish.
You can experiment with a variety of wooden chips – each type of wood will give the fish a unique flavour. You can also use hay. Oak is a classic; it gives fish a bold and strong flavour but is easy to overdo. Beech is more subtle but still fragrant and has less risk of overpowering the flavours of the fish. Only use clean hardwoods for hot-smoking.
Cook your fish for about 10-12 minutes at about 160C. Adjust cooking time according to the size of your fillets. If you’re not eating all the fish straight away, make sure to seal your fillets before storing it in the fridge – otherwise, all your food might smell of smoke too!