The silver of the sea, aromatised smokers and its foraging friends.
Smoked fish is a distinguished taste of the Baltic Sea and a traditional cooking method that before the fridge and freezer had merely preserving purposes. Nowadays, to our advantage, smoked fish flavour has moved quite a few spots above preserving on -the pleasures of taste list-. Although smoking a piece of fish will take its shelf life a couple extra knots away from the BBE (best before end) date, no technical calculation intended, the art of indirect-heat-cooking is an old time, pat down, passed on knowledge. A cycle through the coastal villages of the Island of Rugia (Rügen in German) will pretty much reveal smoke huts one after another. These are easily spotted by the shy transparent smoke trail coming out their chimney. Nonetheless the aroma will put your eyes, if your tasted buds allow for concentration, on the right sighting.
The brackish southwestern waters of the Baltic and those of the Kattegat Sea, bound by the Jütland peninsula are well oxygenated and have a rich biology. Here, an abundance of Baltic Herring, distinguished by its small size ranging from 14 to 18 cm long are significant to the fishery of many countries together with cod and sprat. Herring has historically earned -the silver of the sea- nickname in the region and is considered one of the more environmentally responsible and sustainable fisheries. Not alone in this rank, herring is remarkably high in the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids and is an important source of vitamin D.
Smoking fish, simply put, is slow cooking via indirect heat. Heat coming from slow smouldering wood embers is set on one side or chamber and fresh or brined fish is hung or placed on racks opposite or aside the embers. The hot air and smoke gradually dehydrate the meat. This process is done to varying final meat moisture points, assessed from the inside flesh towards the outer skin.
Smoking fish and cold curing (IOU article on cold cured fish) are different processes and are terms often loosely exchanged. Both delicious and, personally speaking not competing in flavour quality, can be used as an ingredient, main, warm, cold, in salads, sandwiches, soups, etc.