Smoking Fish - Tommy Ruff
Have a look at The Art of Smoking Fish for an in depth look at smoking fish.
Tommy Ruff, Snook, Mackerel, Trevally, Small European Carp
- Highview Fish Smoker
- Hickory Sawdust
- Methylated Spirits Burner (supplied with Smoker)
- 10 - 16 my Ruff Fillets, Boned
I will never forget the day when Chinook introduced me to Smoked Tommies. We were at Elliston, on the Eyre Peninsula, and the action for Mulloway and Aussie Salmon was somewhat slow. So, early one morning, Chinook, Santi (my Brother-in-Law) and I decided to fish and catch our breakfast off of Elliston Jetty.
We ended up with about a dozen nice sized Tommies. We all headed back to camp, and Chinook, with a sly and smirky grin, brought out his portable smoker. I had my doubts as to whether or not I would enjoy eating smoked Tommies, but hey, there is no spice in life if you're not willing to try something different !
Chinook's Highview Fish Smoker is simple and easy to use, and is a handy, compact addition to any camping site. They retail for about $35 here in Adelaide and are available from most Tackle Stores ie Got One and Sports Fishing Scene.
We prepared the smoker, positioned it in an area protected from wind, readied the burner, scattered a measured amount of Hickory Sawdust onto the base of the smoker, and greased the grill with some vegetable oil. The instructions on the Highview Fish Smoker highlight the amount of sawdust needed to fully cook your fillets.
After filleting and boning our morning catch, we decided to forgo the brining process, as our ingredients were somewhat scarce - we had none !. We simply washed the fillets under running cold water, patted them dry and placed them, skin facing down, onto the grill of the smoker.
The drying process is fairly important, as fillets that are too moist will end up being steamed, rather than smoked. Though still edible, you wont end up fully appreciating the quality, taste and flavour of smoked fish.
We then placed the lid onto the smoker, lit the burner, and centrally placed the whole smoker, fillets and all, over the burner.
The burning of the sawdust, which produced the smoke, lasted only a few minutes. Its was fairly critical that the lid fit snuggly onto the smoker, to minimise any loss of smoke, and that a constant and steady heat from the burner was maintained for the duration of the cooking.
Your fillet pieces should not be too thick, or for that matter too large, as the smoking and heating process wont have enough time to fully cook your fish. Don't pack the smoker with large one inch thick fillets. Leave some space between each fillet to give the smoke a chance to fully permeate all the fillets. Also, don't lift the lid during the smoking process, to have a peek at how the cooking is progressing, or you will loose all the heat in the smoking chamber.
After about 14 minutes, the fillets were ready. The feeling of uncertainty turned into elation and expectations were rewarded true as we all thoroughly enjoyed the spoils of the morning's catch. It was simply amazing, eating the fillets, with our hands, and enjoying the aroma, taste, juices and oil from the Tommy Ruff fillets.
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