Simple ways to smoke fish and light a charcoal barbecue

July 28, 2015

Outdoor cooking doesn't have to be difficult. Check out these tips and learn how to smoke fish and light a charcoal barbecue in no time.

Simple ways to smoke fish and light a charcoal barbecue

Fish smokery checklist

Hot-smoking is a great way to cook fish such as mackerel and salmon. A smokery is easy to make from everyday household equipment.

You will need:

  • Roasting pan
  • Bricks
  • Sawdust
  • Grill rack
  • Cooking oil
  • Fish
  • Brine (water saturated with salt)
  • Baking sheet
  • Alcohol burners

Build your own fish smokery

  1. Take an ordinary roasting pan and place it on four bricks, outdoors. Sprinkle in 30 millilitres (two tablespoons) of sawdust — hickory, oak or maple. (This "smoke dust" can be bought from fishing-tackle shops or barbecue shops.) Place a grill rack inside the roasting tin, so that it sits above the sawdust.
  2. Wipe some oil on the rack to keep your food from sticking. Put the fish on the rack having first soaked it in brine for 30 minutes and patted it dry. If the fish is filleted, place it skin-side down. Use a baking sheet to cover the roasting tin and weigh it down with another brick.
  3. Half-fill two burners (available from camping shops) with denatured alcohol. Position them underneath your homemade smokery, between the supporting bricks, and carefully light the burners with a match.
  4. Don't worry if smoke seeps out of the burner; that's as it should be. Refill the burners if they run out of alcohol, but take great care when doing so as they will be hot. Bring the fish to an internal temperature of 70°C (160°F) for 30 minutes, remove it from the smoker and allow to cool before serving.

Light a charcoal barbecue the right way

Don't spoil a good afternoon in the garden by fighting a pitched battle with the barbecue.

  1. Set up in a sheltered corner, and instead of using smelly lighter fuels, try laying scraps of lightweight cardboard (torn-up cereal boxes, for example) under and poking through the charcoal, where you can light them.
  2. An empty plastic squeeze bottle will do the job of bellows to fan the flames until they take hold.
  3. A charcoal chimney — a metal cylinder with holes around the base, which you place on the grill — is a smart buy for easy lighting. Crumple some newspaper and push it loosely in, top up with charcoal then light the paper. In 20 minutes you can decant glowing coals onto the grill.
  4. Start cooking when the coals are covered with fine, pale ash.

Keep these tips in mind and you'll be smoking fish and lighting your charcoal barbecue before you know it!


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