Smoking fish

Hot Mackerel Smoking

Mackerel after 10 minutes in the smoker.

Last year we found this Dutch bread tin at a flea market and thought it would make a perfect smoker:

Hot smoking box

The raw mackerel prior to smoking

The idea is to light a fire on the barbecue and put some sawdust in the base of the smoker. The choice of sawdust is important and some woods work better than others. We tried cedar wood last year and that was definitely not a good idea: it had too strong a flavour. So far, we’ve tried apple and almond and both worked really well. It is OK just to collect the sawdust from a chainsaw but if you are worried about traces of chainsaw oil an  electric planer works very well. Aparently softwoods such as pine should not be used.

The fish fillets are put in a weak brine solution for as long as possible. We were a bit short of time today so they were probably only in there for about 30 minutes. The fillets are then put on a mesh about 10cm above the sawdust and the smoker is put on the barbecue. Note: We also tried this using no salt and we could not tell the difference so from now on we won’t bother with the salt.


The apple sawdust is sprinkled on the bottom of the tin

Once the sawdust has reached a high enough temperature it will start to smoke.

The smoking process

A few burning sticks get a good heat all around the box

Once the smoke starts coming out of holes, the timer is set. We estimate that it will take about 10 to 15 minutes for the fish to be smoked and cooked.

Heating the smoking box

It takes about 3 minutes before the box heats up and smoke comes out of the cracks.

Smoked mackerel kedgeree

It is not possible to find smoked fish in Spain and on the rare occasion that you can find smoked mackerel, it tends to be prepared in brine. One of these days we will try smoking our own mackerel at the cortijo. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for shop-bought smoked mackerel.

Serves 4


2 packets or approximately 300g smoked mackerel, flaked
250g long grain rice, cooked
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 or 3 large free-range eggs, boiled and quartered
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tablespoon curry powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
125ml natural yoghurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 lemon, quartered to serve

Melt the oil and some butter in a casserole and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the curry powder and chilli powder and stiry fry for a minute before adding the tomatoes, stirring well. Add the rice and mackerel to the pan and gently heat through, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add half the chopped coriander and arrange the egg quarters on top.

Mix the remaining coriander with the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper.

Service the kedgeree with the yoghurt and lemon quarters.