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There’s an art to successful hot smoking. Cold smoking, on the other hand, now that’s a science.

Ensuring a continuous supply of flavour-imparting smoke while maintaining a steady, safe temperature generally either requires an expensive rig or some cannily McGuivered homemade network of offset chambers and pipes – with both solutions requiring some skill to minimise the amount of heat that reaches the food. Digitally controlled smokers, on the other hand, offer a fire-and-forget alternative, but they don’t come cheap. All of which makes the fact that the ridiculously inexpensive Pro Q Cold Smoker really works so surprising.

Out of the box, the Pro Q looks every bit as cheap as it really is. But this is one gadget where the genius truly lies in its simplicity. Though little more than a mesh basket with a set of barriers that create a spiral maze into which you dump a supply of fine sawdust, the Pro Q will stay alight for up to 10 hours. And all the while it will produce smoke without fire, and without the need for a draft of any kind. As a result you can dump it into just about any container – a wok, crockpot, even a cardbox box, place your food on a shelf above, and leave it to work its magic.

The sawdust burns so gently and slowly that you just need to control the ambient temperature to effectively control the smoking temperature. Logically that should also mean this will work a treat for very accurate (and cheap) hot-smoking, too – simply by placing the unit and a suitable smoking chamber inside an oven. At the risk of this post turning into an infomercial, you can find out more about the Pro Q here.

RECIPE

Equipment: Pro Q Cold Smoker, oak sawdust

Ingredients: Salmon fillet (preferably wild). Freeze at -20c for 7 days, or until -35c core temperature, if you want to be sure of killing any parasites.

  1. Rub an even cure mix of salt and sugar onto boned salmon fillet, at a ratio of 8g salt and 8g sugar for every 100g of salmon.
  2. Vacuum seal if possible, or pack tightly. Place in fridge.
  3. After 12 hours, rinse off the cure. Pat excess moisture from fish, bu don’t dry it too much. Leave it slightly tacky.
  4. Place in a chamber with the Pro Q Smoker filled to halfway (enough for at least 4 hours smoking.) Ensure the food won’t drip onto the sawdust – use foil to create an ad-hoc barrier, if necessary.
  5. Light the Pro Q and close chamber. Ensure the temperature inside the chamber remains around between 18c and 24c. Do not allow to exceed 26c.
  6. After 4 hours remove salmon from the smoker and refrigerate until use.

Note: Curing is a necessary process, but the cure ratio can be altered to some extent to suit individual tastes. Try varying the salt percentage from 3.5% for something milder to 10% for a saltier end result, for example.

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Scribbling, ponderings, and maybe a little food porn…

by Mark Ramshaw

owner at feast for the senses
food design, private catering, consultancy

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