Step 1. You will need to catch your herrings; I caught mine in Tesco, of course. Well, the sea was a little stormy this week, and I don’t have a boat.
Step 2. Off with their heads, which will get used to make fish stock when I next need some. In the meantime, they live in the big freezer, along with the mackerel heads from an earlier episode of this journal.
I‘ve given up numbering the steps, as it was far too much faffing about. As I was gutting the herrings, I was pleased to find they were nicely full of roes, which I saved in the freezer, to be used in somthing tasty when I think what it will be. Perhaps I will smoke them lightly and put them in a taramasalata. That’s the only word with six As in it that I know, by the way.
Cutting along one side of the spine, almost all the way to the top of the fish, enabled me to open them out into the normal kipper shape. I’m going to have to remove the bones from any I try to serve to Mrs Walrus, of course, but these are not shop-style filleted kippers. I was going to leave the tails on, but it made them harder to fit on the racks. In big smoke houses, they use the tails to hang the herrings up for kippering, I believe. Having had fish fall down onto the smoking wood in a previous adventure, I did these beauties on racks. The racks are suspended on hooks made from 2mm galvanized wire, quickly bent with a pair of pliers. At some point, I will make something that doesn’t have to hang over the edge of the smoking bin, as that lets quite a lot of smoke out.
I‘m not sure if you can see it very well in this shot, but smoke is escaping. This time, the wood was a blend of cherry, beech, and alder. I thought maybe the oak I used last time might be a bit too strong. Twenty minutes seemed like a suitable length of time to smoke for, and indeed, the wood ran out of smoke at about that point anyway.
Here we have kippers! They don’t look raw, and are waiting in the fridge for a suitable breakfast at which to serve them. I’ve been trying to remember how we used to heat them up for serving when I was young. I’m fairly sure a frying pan was involved, but then again, the microwave does a good job of warming smoked mackerel, so I might just use that.