While cold smoking is used as a great preserver of food, hot smoking is all about the flavor. It has been around since cavemen first discovered that cooking in smoky caves imparted the flavor of the fire into the food they were cooking. So that should tick the box for the Paleo guys out there.

Hot smoking is a simple process, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can pick up a cheap smoker for around the $50 mark, but you can also make your own out of an old biscuit tin or something similar.

Choosing the wood, however, is important since different woods impart differing flavors. I prefer the wood of fruit trees, as it lends a certain sweetness to the finished product. But oak, mesquite, and hickory are also great. In addition, if you can get your hands on some dried juniper berries, then throw them in as well. Stay away from soft woods—the higher resin content makes for an acrid tasting smoke.

The wood shavings should line the bottom of the smoker or tin, with a drip tray suspended above to protect the smouldering wood from the moisture dripping from your chosen meat or fish. The meat or fish then sits on a rack above. In turn, the whole thing sits on top of a small flame to heat the wood indirectly, allowing it to smoulder without bursting into flames. I use a meths burner, but you could just as easily sit the whole thing on top of fire or barbeque embers.

Note: If you going to fire up the smoker, you may as well fill it. So, along with the fish, I have a couple of chicken breasts and a couple slices of bacon thrown in there.

Before smoking, you need to brine the fish to draw out the excess moisture. This is done by adding about 30g of salt to a liter of water and then soaking the fish for an hour or so. After this, rinse the fish under fresh water and roll it in this Cajun spice mix:

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried garlic powder

Coat the fish well, and then it wants about half an hour in the smoker. The end result tastes as good as it looks.