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Cold-smoked mackeral

Jo came home tonight with a gift of fresh mackerel from a friend of ours  

I'm not too keen on them just grilled, but I absolutely love them smoked, so this lot are heading into the cold-smoker tonight!

They first get split, & the bones taken out (the wee pin bones along the fillets just get left for now. They're a lot easier to take out once the fish has firmed-up after brining)

I prefer to use a dry-brine for most of my smoking. I do use wet brines on occasion, but find that a dry is suitable for most meats & fish. It does mean you need to keep a close eye on the timing if you don't want to risk it ending up oversalted though..............

Just a mix of fine cooking salt, & a few herbs & spices. I use a secret blend that was handed down from my dad (who got it from a bloke in the pub last week  ) Seriously though, it's simply anything you think will lend a flavour you like.............I've used parsley, rosemary, thyme, a few juniper berries & a couple of peppercorns in this case, along with a sprinkling of sugar  

For anyone not familiar with cold-smoking, the brine acts to flavour the flesh, as well as acting as a preservative (not quite as important these days) & preparing the flesh to take up the smoke than anything does this by breaking down the cell walls, & allowing the water in the flesh to leach out...........

You can see the water starting to leach out of the fish in the pic above  

After about half an hour, the salt's rinsed off & the fish are hung to dry in an airy spot. The idea is to wait until a 'pellicle' (salt glaze) froms over the flesh. Then it's ready for the smoker  

Looking good and tasty already  

They've just gone into the smoker this very minute!  

They'll stay in overnight to let them take on a really good smoke flavour  

Once they're done, a knob of butter & some black peper & a few minutes under a grill should see them right  

I don't know what it is about mackerel, but I always think they look one of the most appetising fish. I love 'em - well, I love most fish actually.

If I could just learn to catch them  

Looks good.

I have trouble eating makerel....I tend to view them as bait and the thought of eating bait does nothing for me.

But they look good mate.

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