Hot Smoked Fish – Chi Lo
This recipe would be applicable for any nice oily fish: Mullet, Tailor, Kingy, Trev and many more.
In a tub mix:
1L of water
1/4 cup of soya sauce
1/4 cup (brown or caster) sugar
1/4 cup salt
Add any aromatics you feel like eg. Coriander seeds, pepper, fennel seeds, bay leaves, garlic cloves or chili. Ensure salt and sugar are dissolved.
Take a nice chunk/fillet of skinned fish and trim any bloodline off.
Brine the fish in the fridge for about 4 hours, ensuring it’s submerged.
Remove the fish from the fridge, pat dry with kitchen paper and lay on a cake rack above a plate in the fridge overnight. The purpose of this is to dry the surface of the fillet out. This forms a great protective layer that the smoke can permeate, but also keeps the moisture inside the fillet. When you remove it from the fridge it will have a slightly tacky surface and a nice sheen.
Set up your smoker – I use a foil lined wok with a round cake rack and a lid. I place this on a camp burner on moderate heat.
Use any wood you like (I used mesquite). I recommend using sawdust to ensure a lot of smoke quickly, given the short smoking period.
Smoke for 10 minutes for a thin fillet, 15-20 for a thick chunk (eg. kingy).
The fillet will be a beautiful mahogany colour and should be beautifully juicy inside. It took me some tries to refine the quantities in the brine so it’s not too salty, not too sweet. The drying out process overnight really helped the overall product for me.
Smoked fish can be used in a number of ways and keeps for quite awhile if you have a vac packer. Some ways of use would be smoked fish dip, thai betel leaves, smoked fish sandwiches, smoked fish and eggs, croquettes (as a substitute for spanish salted cod) and even smoked fishcakes.