Saturday, 13 September 2014

Home Hot Smoked Salmon and raising money for Tonga

In two and a half weeks time I will be hopping on a plane bound for Tonga. When I tell people this they imagine tropical resorts, sun loungers and pool side wait staff. But this trip will be far, far different from your average tropical package holiday; because I'm going with 7 staff and 24 students on a Mercy Outreach to visit our Tongan sister school. We've been preparing for the trip for months: the Puletaha traditional formal uniforms are at the sewing factory being completed, the risk analysis has been written, we've all had our vaccinations, and the gear list is as long as your arm. 

Anyway, I wanted to fill the trip's coffers a little more so we could take a few more resources over with us. We all love food, and we've all been quite busy of late, so I thought a morning tea, available by donation, would be just the thing. I kept it quite simple, Cheese rolls, Chocolate Mud Cupcakes, both gluten and gluten free, a gluten free pizza bread and home made Hot Smoked Salmon served with sour cream and capers.

The home hot smoked salmon always goes down well. It's really delicious and really easy to make at home.

Home Hot Smoked Salmon

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
a piece of fresh salmon, about half a side, skin on - I used Akaroa salmon from Rare Fare

a couple of handfuls of manuka wood chips
4 tea bags of black tea
methylated spirits
some matches or a gas lighter
a stainless steel fish smoker

Mix the sugar, salt, vinegar and mustard.

Check the salmon for pin bones, and lay it in the centre of a large piece of plastic food wrap, or in a close fitting tray or bowl. Cover in the marinade, wrap or cover, then place in the fridge for about an hour.

Take the salmon from the fridge. Remove from the wrap and place it on the metal rack of the fish smoker. I always use the rack with the most clearance gap from the tray, as otherwise the wood chips always seem to end up on the fish. Use a paper towel to blot the excess marinade from the fish. 
Prepare the smoker by finding a suitable outside position on a level, non flammable hard surface. Place the manuka chips and tea leaves into the tray of the smoker. Half fill the methylated spirit container. 

Once you have every thing ready, place the tray with the salmon into the smoker and light the meths. Don't try to move the lit meths container as you will probably burn yourself. Place the smoker over the burning meths and put the lid on. 
Because the heat often causes the smoker to buckle, place a heavy pot on top of the lid to encourage a good seal. Smoke for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. You can always lift the lid to check. The fish should be a dark colour and firmish to the touch. 

Once done, remove the rack and fish from the smoker and set aside to cool. It is very delicate and needs to be handled very gently to prevent it from falling apart. Once cold, transfer the fish by covering the top side with plastic food wrap and inverting the rack and fish onto a plate. Take care when removing the rack as the fish skin will be stuck to it. Just push down on the skin as you lift the rack. Wrap the fish and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, unwrap the fish and peel off the skin. 

Using either plastic wrap or a plate, invert the fish, then gently ease it onto the serving platter. Refrigerate it until served. 

I usually serve it with crackers, both water and gluten free rice crackers, and a mixture of sour cream, mayonnaise, and capers. 

Thanks so much to everyone who gave so generously to this worthy cause. The morning tea fundraiser was a great success. 

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