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Issue 120 - Up in Smoke

Whisky Magazine Issue 120
June 2014

 

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Up in Smoke

Seáneen Sullivan shares a recipe for smoking your own salmon at home

The fire alarm is shrieking. While acrid smoke consumes the kitchen I am perched awkwardly on the counter waving a tea towel beneath the flashing light, in a frantic attempt to quell the sound. As it falls silent I fantasise about an outdoor smoke house replete with smoking hooks and temperature controls, or a modern ceramic smoker for the yard, to stuff full of oak shavings and cook meat slowly over the lowest of heat, although at this stage I would settle for a functioning extractor fan. I am smoking chicken in a wok, Chinese style, and have accidentally allowed oxygen into the system, causing the rice to burst into flames. In the interests of full disclosure, the ‘system' is not the most sophisticated, comprising a sushi rack suspended over a pan full of rice and tea leaves, the lot swathed in tin foil. The result of this flimsy structural integrity is fragrant smoke bellowing throughout the house, an otherwise pleasant sensation dulled by the alarm's protest.

My amateur smoking attempt typifies the perpetual struggle of smoking food, or grain for whisky. A delicate balance must be maintained. Enough gentle heat must develop to steadily cook or dry while also maintaining a slow and even smoulder in order to neatly coat the food or grain in a layer of tasty smoke particles. Too much heat will overdo the food or grain before the smoke has a chance to do its work. It is also important to avoid the loss of the flammable phenols and volatiles, so that they are simply set f...

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