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Tuesday, 21 February 2006
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Make-your-own fish smoker

There’s nothing nicer than smoking fish in the backyard and here’s a sleek, sophisticated model of smoker which looks more expensive than it is and can be assembled at home too.

Components for the smoker can be bought from stainless steel fabricators or sheet metal engineers and assembly-savvy fishers will be able to construct the smoker themselves.

Others can achieve this ultimate smoker with just a little help from friends.

The material used is 304 grade stainless steel and the drawing shows approximate dimensions in millimetres the thickness between .55mm and .90mm. The front and back sections have 20mm folds, and are bolted to the side sections with 10x4mm stainless steel bolts.

The firebox has 20mm return-flanges to allow bolting to the front section and the front firebox sliding vent has two 50mm folds.

The wires, which suspend the fish, can be in stainless steel or No 8 wire, 500mm long, with one pointed end. The holes in both side members are 50mm apart and 80mm down from the top of the unit.

To start smoking, all one needs is a wet sack to place over the chimney, some dry manuka cut in short lengths – and of course some fish!

Snapper are ideal with up to seven fitting nicely inside. Firstly, gut the fish, leaving the scales on and cut open along the backbone until flattened. The support wire is pushed through the fish, keeping it open.

Sprinkle on some salt, rub in brown sugar and leave for half an hour. Light the fire at least 30 minutes before placing fish in the smoker. This allows a solid heat base to establish at the front of the firebox.

Only a small flame is needed over a three-to four-hour period. The sides of the smoker shouldn’t be too hot to touch – too much heat will cook, not smoke the fish.

The fire is controlled by sliding the vent member up and down. Use a glove for this. A small amount of ventilation is provided at the top by slightly folding back the wet sack to allow smoke to escape.

Check the fire regularly to ensure a constant supply of dense warm smoke is permeating the fish. Check the fish by inserting a fork into the flesh. When soft, the fish is ready, and this usually takes up to four hours. Enjoy immediately with your favourite sauces and condiments.

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