Got the cold smoker going? Why not pop on some quick-cured mackerel while you're at it!
I absolutely love smoked mackerel, although sometimes I find hot-smoked shop bought fillets a little chewy on top - if you cold smoke your own, you can avoid this part and have delicious, juicy smoked mackerel fillets ready to cook under the grill whenever you fancy!
|Just look how juicy it is inside when you flake some of the flesh away!|
You can generally pick up fresh mackerel for very low prices, and once cured and smoked they will keep well in the fridge for several days if you vacuum pack them, or you can freeze them either raw or cooked. If you're using your cold smoker for something else (e.g. bacon... home made smoked bacon, mmm! See here for my home made bacon recipes) it makes perfect sense to utilise what space you have available in the smoker to smoke other things at the same time. Conveniently hard cheese (e.g. cheddar, gouda) and butter cold-smoke perfectly in 4-6 hours too (and you could also pop things like garlic, salt, paprika et. in there as well if you have any more space).
You can of course just hot smoke or BBQ the mackerel once you've cured them, as it is quicker and then they're ready to eat; but I quite like the versatility of having them cold smoked, so I can cook them in whichever way I choose.
- 8 mackerel fillets
- 250g coarse sea salt
- 50g demerera sugar
- Optional freshly / coarsely ground black pepper
1. Mix the sugar and salt together thoroughly. Sprinkle over all of the mackerel fillets, both sides (I find it easiest to sprinkle it all on the flesh side first, then gently shake off the excess and sit the skin side onto it).
2. Leave for 20 minutes, then rinse off and thoroughly pat dry. If you want to pepper your mackerel, do so now. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to dry out further (you could refrigerate overnight, if you like, on a rack).
3. Cold smoke for four hours (the ideal amount of time to smoke butter and hard cheeses too, to make best use of your smoker!). You can then vacuum pack and refrigerate or freeze. Will keep for several days in the fridge if vacuum packed (or months in the freezer). If not vacuum packed, then wrap tightly and keep for up to three days.
4. To cook: Brush lightly with oil (e.g. a light olive oil), and grill (broil) for a couple of minutes on each side until cooked through, and juicily delicious!
Great served with a little creamed horseradish on the side, some dressed leaves and either some crusty bread, or new potatoes.
|And yes, there is some smoked butter on those green beans, just because...|
For cold smoking, I use a ProQ Cold Smoke Generator which I highly recommend, as they will give out smoke for up to 10 hours (I find mine will keep going for a good 12 hours on a cold day!) which is perfect for smoking anything from butter to bacon, as you can vary how much smoke dust you put in it. If you have a lidded barbecue, this is great for smoking things in: I use this one, which is a decent size and perfect for the job, and put in cured mackerel (4 hours), cheeses (4-6 hours), butter (4-6 hours), garlic, salt, paprika etc. to smoke at the same time as when I make my bacon (10-12 hours, my recipe is here), as I do like to make the most of it (but be careful not to cross contaminate)! Smoked butter is to die for, especially on things like green beans... And I used maple smoke dust to smoke with, although other types of wood dust are good too. If you don't have a lidded barbecue, ProQ do an 'Eco Smoker Box ', which is essentially a large, sturdy cardboard box with a couple of wire racks and a metal tray at the bottom, and space for your smoke generator underneath which is perfect for your first go at cold smoking as it only costs a few pounds and will actually last a good while if you store it appropriately.
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