Food smoking has become more and more popular now, with handheld food smokers featuring on TV cooking shows like Masterchef. Amazon is reporting that sales have jumped upwards of 200% since 2015.
Beyond the traditionally smoky taste, modern smokers allow the adding of aromatics, which enhance the taste of the food being smoked. Different types of fuel will impart a different taste, with 500g bags of smoke-ready woodchips now available at many food stores.
There is scientific discussion as to why humans love smoked food stemming back to hunter-gatherer times. “Evolutionary speaking, fire and smoke signal meat roasting, so we may have been programmed to find them desirable,” said Oxford experimental psychology professor Charles Spence.
Food can be either hot or cold smoked.
· Hot smoking, which takes place at around 100C, both cooks and flavours the food
· Cold smoking, which involves smoking at no more than 30C, simply imparts flavour
· Most handheld smokers are designed to cold smoke
Handheld food smokers have become the preferred method to prepare smoked dishes for many home chefs. Traditionally, smoking would require either a large offset or gas smoker, which would have to sit outside in all but the largest, most well ventilated kitchens. Now, handheld food smokers allow wannabe gourmands to smoke food without the large space and ventilation commitment.
It’s possible to use a food smoker to add some flavour to otherwise dull condiments, create some impressive cocktails or even entirely new meals. Food smoking can add a new twist to some classic condiments:
· Smoked Sea Salt
· Smoked Paprika-Chili
· Smoked BBQ Marinade
· Smoked Vinaigrette
· Smoked Hummus
· Smoked Cake Topping
Some classic recipes can take on new taste profile once smoked:
· Smoked Chicken Salad
· Smoked Potato-leek Soup
· Smoked Mussels
· Smoked Lamb Sausage
· Smoked Cashew Nuts
· Smoked Salmon
Adventurous bartenders have even incorporated handheld smokers into drink recipes:
· Cigar-Smoke Infused Manhattan
· Apple Wood Smoked Bloody Mary
· Smoked Old Fashioned
· Smoked Beer
There are a few different methods of cold-smoking food or drinks. They generally involve enclosing the ingredients in a container, which is then filled with smoke from the woodchips or aromatics used in the smoker.
· Place the food you wish to smoke on a flat surface. Cover with a bowl or dome. The smoke nozzle can then be inserted under the bowl/dome. This suits butter and other solids
· Alternatively, food can be placed in a glass beaker, the top sealed with cling film. The smoke nozzle can then be place under the plastic sealant. This is best for salts, and other ingredients difficult to handle
If Making a smoked cocktail, the smoke nozzle can be inserted into a Boston shaker before it is sealed. Once the cups are filled with smoke, the shaker is sealed and shaken .
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