This is a very old tradition to smoke cod. The fish itself is not oily and has a loose structure. It is characterized by a lot of meat and the absence of little bones. Also it has no scale which makes its cleaning easier. The cod is smoked fast and kept till 2 weeks in fridge. It is served cold. In Northern countries I always tried to buy smoked cod to taste with beer and vodka as snack, or as a plain meal for dinner.
Recently I visited so-called “cod capital” of Russia, and first of all run to the market, of course, to purchase couple of cods. I tried to eat them but so far it was a complete disaster! Obviously the fish was too small in size, frozen many times, and, I’m sure, treated by some kind of chemicals. Inside the fish was too dry though it smelled nice. What kind of chemical additives were used – still remains undiscovered.
So, when I came back home, I bought three cods, nicely cooled, fresh and huge in size.
The fish was salted this easy way:
Coarse (always!) salt – 1 kg
Brown sugar – about 300 gr
Ground pepper – about 50-80 gr
Dried thyme was also added for extra nice flavor.
I rubbed the fish pretty well with the ready mixture and sent it to fridge for the next 8 hours. I would highly recommend in the middle of salting process to turn around the pieces, as they are big, so that the fish could salt evenly. By the way, when the salting process is finished it is easy to see whether the salting was performed successfully or not. Everything is alright if the pieces become darker, denser and the skin is harder and way looks a bit like “glassy”.
The fish should be well rinsed with water and after that dried with a towel. Later we put the pieces on ventilation grid and sent them to fridge to dry for 24 hours.
Attention! You might be surprised by the quantity of liquid flowing out of fish, so you’d better put a tray under the grid.
On the photo you can see that I tied the pieces with a twine like the manufactures do. I wanted to understand the reason they always do that. Ok, I understood.
In fact, if the fish is of bad quality, many time frozen etc., then when it goes through heat treatment, it is sure to lose its original structure, falling into pieces. In this case, of course the use of twine is reasonable. However, the cod I smoked originally of good quality was dense, oily and looking nice at the same time. And it was far from falling into pieces.
For the smoking process I used Bradley and apple sawdust.
An hour under 80C + an hour and half under 110C. Whether it was ready or not I checked with my finger. If the meat can be easily taken from the fishbone then it is ready. Later it is better to leave the cod in a smoker until it is cooled down naturally. Anyway, hot cod is not so delicious as cold one.