How to build your own hot smoker

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Build your own hot smoker!

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One of the finer things in life is smoked fish. Spending lots of time by the water, and plenty of trial and error has provided a somewhat consistent supply of fish, and for some time we have talked about how great it would be to build a smoker. If we could find a way to do this on the road, not only would it make one of our favourite foods even more delicious, but it would help to preserve the meat when the fishing is good.

We did a bit of research, and decided a hot smoker was the way to go. Not only is there no need to have an elaborate passage to cool the smoke, but after having a little think about it, it turned out we already had most of the main components to rig one together. This excited us in more than one way, because living in such a small space requires all our objects be useful, and often to have more than one use, and I think really good design is looking at what you already have, and then making something new out of it.

To build a hot smoker, all you really need is someway to generate, then contain the smoke, while it imparts it’s beautiful flavour and natural preserving qualities on your food of choice. For us it was quite simple. We already have, and use regularly, our very nice camp oven (contain the smoke) and that even has one stainless rack on which to lay the fish (we usually use this when baking bread to keep it off the hot base) Our petrol stove, or even Burnie, provides enough heat to start the wood chips smouldering (generate smoke) and stashed away in the shipping container we had a small stainless dish perfect to place the chips in. A second rack, to make good use of all the smoke filled space in the camp oven was needed, so as we stopped off at Boobook on our way to Tassie, I quickly knocked one up from left over perforated stainless sheet (that we originally got for free anyway) that we have already found numerous uses for. Job done, Bluey now has a hot smoker!

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Much like the construction, using the hot smoker also turned out to be a simple process. First up, some of the moisture needs to be removed, or it just kind of poaches in its own juices. For this, we generously covered the whole or filleted fish in finely ground salt, inside and out, and sat the container on an angle the fridge for a few hours, so the removed moisture can drain away. You will be surprised just how much liquid comes out, it’s definitely alot more than we expected. Next we rinsed the salt off with fresh water several times, dried with an old tea towel and placed on the smoking racks. We then put approximately 2 table spoons of hickory wood saw dust (better suited our style of smoker then the coarse style wood chips, thanks to Mark from Country Brewer in Daylesford for this info) into the small dish. Crack the lid open a bit to let the smoke out slowly, and setting the lot on the stove for somewhere between 20 min and half an hour on a med to high heat gave us great results. It’s been a real treat to have such a delicacy while travelling, and even after leaving the coast, or having no luck fishing, to be able to fall back on a supply of smoked fish is simply the best!