What are my special features?
Once caught, the fish are filleted by hand. Once filleted the fish are smoked turning cream to beige in colour, with a dry texture and a smoked slightly salty flavour.
The complex process involved in the smoking is what gives the fish its distinctive taste. First the fillets are brined in a salt water solution. The fillets are then drained on spreats which are long rods made of stainless steel. At the end of the day, the spreats are placed in the smokehouse chimneys, which can stretch up to 10m in height.
The fillets are smoked overnight in these chimneys which have a special opening to allow air to mingle with the smoke ensuring that the fish is cold rather than hot smoked. This prevents the fish from flaking during the smoking process. The inside of each chimney is coated with tar that has built up, providing a further depth of flavour to the smoked fish.
What is my history?
The fish smoked in Grimsby traditionally include haddock and cod, however, due to fragile cod stocks the main focus is now on haddock. The skill required for the smoking process is something that is passed down through the generations, and cannot simply be learnt overnight. An experienced fish smoker can tell when the fillets are ready simply by touch.
Why am I forgotten?
Whereas traditional fish smoking is a natural slow overnight process, modern kiln smoking is artificially speeded up using electrically powered fans and heaters. Most smoking is done in modern kilns mainly because of its speed and versatility but this gives the fish less chance to be imbued with flavour. Traditional fish smoking is a highly specialised process and Grimsby is the only place with the right concentration of skills, established contacts and infrastructure to support it.
Don’t lose me… cook me!