Tuesday, June 14, 2011



Smoking of foodstuffs has been a cooking technique that I, personally, have not tried before, and yet the basic smoking of food is relatively easy, and has, in fact been done for hundreds of years – all that it requires is a container that can be heated up, a smoking mixture and a receptacle for holding the food to be smoked, that can be tightly closed.

I bought a metal steamer, filled it partially with the smoking mixture - Smoking Foods , and smoked my meat – and it was absolutely marvellous. You have to decide whether you are going to ‘hot’ smoke the food or ‘cold’ smoke the food – I chose initially to hot smoke the food, and the results were stunning.

So this is what I did.

Fig 1 - a metal steamer.

I bought a metal steamer (Fig 1) from the Asian store, but there are many other utensils that can be used going from the very simple (like I did) to the more complicated smokers that can be bought commercially - Misty Gully .
I initially chose to smoke using an 'Oolong tea' smoking mixture, which consisted of long grain rice, oil, sugar, spices and some Oolong tea (Fig 2).

Fig 2 - the long grain rice plus sugar, tea and spices in the base of the steamer.

But the range of substances that can be used is enormous. If you desire to give a ‘wood’ smoke flavour to the food, then apple wood (Fig 3),

Fig 3 - apple wood chips from Misty Gully.

hickory and other woods can be used. One must ensure that the wood is free from insecticides, the wood is in a fine chip form, and the wood is completely wet before smoking is begun.

I chose initially to smoke quail meat Fig 4. Quail is not a thick meat and therefore the amount of time that it is smoked is relatively short.

Fig 4 - quail prior to deboning.

What I did was to butterfly and then debone the quail (Fig 5),

Fig 5 - the quail deboned.

marinate it in a pepper, salt, mandarin and ginger mixture (Fig 6),

Fig 6 - quail marinated in pepper,salt, ginger and mandarin peel.

and then after about one hour, clean off the marinating mixture (Fig 7),

Fig 7 - the marinating mixture washed off, the quail dryed and placed in the steamer.

and smoke it (Fig 8,9,10,11). The smoking mixture was placed in the base of the steamer; the heat was turned on and I waited till I began to see some steam coming off the smoking mixture. I then placed the container with the meat on top of the smoking mixture containing base, put on the lid, and the smoking was done for a period of 5 minutes and the smoking continued with the flame turned off for a further 5 minutes – at the end of this time – the meat had a distinct but subtle Oolong tea flavour to it.

Fig 8 - once smoke begins to emerge from the steamer, the lid is placed on, and the heat is continued for another 5 minutes.

Fig 9 - the steamer opened at the conclusion of 5 minutes with the heat on, and 5 minutes with the heat turned off.

Fig 10 - the quail taken out of the steamer.

Fig 11 - the quail meat divided into two ready for final frying and serving.

Fig 12 - final brief frying of the quail prior to serving.

Just before serving, I placed the meat in a hot frying pan for just one minute (Fig 12) to heat up and crisp the quail, and then the quail was eaten.

Possible health danger.

I suppose that one reason that 'held me back' from smoking food was the possibility of a health danger - after all, eating smoked food is akin to smoking a cigarette Ask the Experts: The dangers of barbecued meat . But on looking through some of the published literature on smoking food, it appears that long smoking with certain dry woods can give a slightly higher health risk than you would get from other cooking methods. From my own point of view - short hot smoking using materials other than wood for the smoking mixture, pose little danger of any health risk occuring. You can definitely find out more on this subject by reading the abundant articles on the internet.