Genuine Arbroath Smokies are still made using traditional methods dating back to the late 1800’s. Whereby a haddock, identified by the distinctive thumb print behind each gill, is gutted, washed and boxed for auction at sea.
Once at the smoke house the first stage is to head and clean the fish before salting them for a period of time, usually overnight. This cures the fish and also toughens the skin to allow it to stand up to the intense heat for the smoking process. Next they are tied in pairs and hung on traditional wooden sticks to dry. (drooth).
Traditionally the barrel would have been sunk into the ground to form a pit. Nowadays the barrel is above ground and constructed of brick approximately 2 metres square.
The fire is laid using any hardwood, which gives the smokies their distinctive colour and flavour. Once ready the sticks are laid across the top of the barrel approximately 3 feet above the fire, the lid is then closed and covered with a hessian cloth to let the fire breathe.
Smoking times vary for a number of reasons including the wind conditions and quality of wood but generally it takes between 30-45 minutes to produce this unique delicacy.
Golden brown the Arbroath smokies are ready to eat; once opened they reveal a creamy firm flesh with a slightly smoky almost sweet flavour which has to be tasted to be believed.
Smoking haddock to make Arbroath Smokies is still very much a cottage industry in Arbroath with a designated area within the town. When visiting Arbroath head for the “fit of the toon” where your nose will soon lead you to the nearest smoke house.
One of the best ways to enjoy this delicacy is straight off the barrel but modern vacuum packing methods allow us to delivery these to you as fresh and as tasty as when they came off the barrel.
After the barrel has been used to produce smokies when the fire is dying a grill is laid across the top of the barrel. Then whole sides of Salmon are placed on this and left to cook until ready. This can take anything between 1 and 3 hours depending on the strength of the fire and size of fish.
This is in contrast to normal smoked salmon which is produced predominately in kilns using a sawdust or wood shavings fire. Unlike this product the hot smoked salmon gets it’s flavour for the smoking process with no further additives with the exception of salt for curing purposes.
Whilst both are cooked the main difference is that the hot smoked is sliced into fillets once ready compared to the normal thinly sliced smoked salmon you may be used to.
The flavour of the hot smoked salmon is unique, similar to a smokie but completely boneless and with a firmer texture, ideal cold with a salad, flaked through pasta or on the BBQ.