Smoking fish can add a wonderful flavour to the meat and is a very satisfying process, especially if you are the outdoors type.
You can buy fish smokers from most stores, but making your own is a fantastic option; you are upcycling what you have lying around your shed and will not cost you a cent.
Here I provide a couple of methods. One using tin cans and methylated spirits, the other using Jamie Oliver’s bucket method.
Jamie’s Olivers Bucket Fish Smoker Method
Jamie just uses a metal bucket, which is the easiest method if you have one spare. Here’s his method which I have also tried with great success:
1. Find an old metal bucket that you don’t need. Turn upside down and make a few holes in the bottom for airflow. Jamie uses a screwdriver and a rock! But you could use a hammer.
2. Place on a couple of bricks so you don’t burn the grass (Jamie doesn’t do this)
3. Add white-hot BBQ charcoal to the bucket then add wood chips. Hardwoods work the best like oak. You can also buy oak chips from whisky barrels if you want to go pro. To create more smoke, pre-soak the wood chips in water.
4. Place all the fish meat on a skewers and place over the bucket. If you are smoking fish fillets, then lay some wood skewers on the bucket to form a rack – then place the fillets on your rack.
5. Lay a damps tea towel over the whole lot, to lock in all that smoke and intensify the flavour.
Methylated Spirits and Tin Can Method
Gather the Tools You Will Need
Buying a smoker might be the easier way out, but why spend tens of dollars on a smoker when you can build one on your own? You will be more satisfied anyway, and the food on your fishing trip will be delicious.
Here are the tools you will need;
• Three or four empty tins, similar to the ones that contain milk formula.
• Two roasting tins. They should have significant depth to them.
• A grill rack that will easily fit inside those roasting pans.
• Four or five bricks.
• Saw dust, preferably from woods that were not painted, and definitely not pine.
• Methylated spirit or some goo wood chips – preferably hard woods
• The fish you want to smoke. For your own sake, marinate them or soak them in brine water.
• If available, a single burner camping stove would do as well, instead of the cans and methylated spirits.
Getting Down to Business
It would be best if you do this away from the house. A sheltered location is preferable to use. If possible, a paved location would offer act as a great base for the setup, but if that’s not available, a flat location would work just as well.
1. Set down the bricks to form a steady base. Go ahead and put one of the roasting pans atop the bricks. Then spread the saw dust on the bottom of the pan. Finish this set up by placing the grill atop the saw dust.
2. Take out your fish and put on top of the roasting grill. If they are fillets, it would be best to put them with the skin down to the grill. Take the other roasting pan and place on top of the other pan to form a tight seal. You can use one of the bricks as a weight on top of the lead to ensure the integrity of the seal.
3. Take the cans and half fill them with the methylated spirit. Light them and set them under the roasting pan. If the camping stove is available, you can use it on moderate heat. Cooking time will depend on the recipe you had used to prepare the meal. If you hadn’t settled on one, 20 minutes should be enough to prepare the fish.
A word of caution. If the spirit is running low inside the tins, extinguish the flames first by covering the tin to snuff out supply of oxygen. Refilling the tin while a fire is ongoing could result in burns. This is because methylated spirits are highly flammable.