While we’re always clear about where our fish comes from, we haven't had the chance to give you further details about our commitment to obtaining high quality smoked fish or even the process.
As we put a lot of effort into ensuring we get the perfect balance of flavour in this area, we thought we’d break our sources down for you, so you can be confident of exactly where your smoked Scottish goods’ origins lie. We've also included some information about where the tradition originally started.
Where Does It Come From? In Scotland, smoking fish can be traced back to the 11th century, and it's thought that the concept was brought over by our Scandinavian neighbours (the Vikings) as a means of preservation. Smoked fish would last up to a week and was much tastier than dried fish. However, it wasn't long before the salty, mature flavour of the smoked fish soon became a delicacy throughout Britain.
The General Process: Before the fish is smoked, it has to be cured in a brine solution, which is secret and changes depending on the family recipe! This increases the fish's ability to absorb the smoke, which is the next step. However, there are two different types of smoking fish - hot and cold smoked.
What's the difference between hot and cold smoked fish? Well the answer's in the name - hot smoked is smoked directly over a fire between 70°C and 80°C , whereas cold-smoked fish is smoked below 30°C and via a chimney, so the fish maintains its cooler temperature. After the smoking, the fish will then be left to cool and then sliced and packaged!
Arbroath smokies: This is the oldest and perhaps the most traditional form of Scottish smoking. From the east coast of Scotland, this dish rose in popularity in the 1800s when many of the Auchmithdie locals (the main fishing village in the area) moved to Arbroath to take advantage of the bigger harbour. Today this particular recipe is protected under EU regulation to safeguard food names. Haddock is used and the whole fish (excluding the guts and the heads) are dry-salted before being hung up above a fire pit of oak and beech wood to be hot-smoked.
While we offer Arbroath smokies, we also have our fish smoked in Aberdeenshire, Shetland and Musselburgh-each which employ their own special techniques. Read on for more details of our smoked products...
Mackerel: One of the strongest flavoured of our range, this oily fish is rich in omega 3 and a great addition to your lunch! It’s specially smoked by our friends over at JK Thomson in Musselburgh.
Haddock: After being sustainably caught in East Coast waters, it’s lightly cured then smoked to create delicate, flaky fish. JK Thomson do the job again for us here.
Finnan Haddock: Also known as Finnan haddie or Findrum speldings to some, this product is local to north-east Scotland. Our Shetland smokers at QA Fish employ a regional method of smoking using green wood and peat.
Herring/Kipper: This small, oily fish has been split, salted and cold-smoked over smouldering woodchips by JK Thomson. It’s also perfect for breakfast. It might contain bones though, so keep your eyes peeled!
Coley: Our Peterhead coley is caught off the Aberdeenshire waters and then smoked by Nolans Quality Seafoods – a family founded business spanning for three generations. Coley is a versatile alternative to more commonly smoked fish such as haddock and cod.
Cod: Naturally smoked on the Island of Shetland, QA Fish uses age-old techniques to perfect this delicacy.
Hake: Our hake is lightly smoked by QA Fish in Shetland, and tastes great in a risotto.
Salmon: Our east coast smoked salmon is traditionally smoked and delicately sliced for us in Dumfries & Galloway, but watch this space as we'll be taking it in-house very soon!
Hot smoked trout: From Belhaven Smokehouse, this luxe treat is naturally smoked in Dunbar, east Lothian.
Hot smoked salmon: Also known as hot, flaky salmon, the fish comes ready to eat. It’s also naturally smoked over oak chips by a family owned business in Dumfries & Galloway, giving it a refined, mature flavour.
If you're hungry for more, we've got plenty of smoked fish recipes to keep you satisfied. Here are some of our favourites:
Fancy trying some of our smoked fish? If you're already a Fishbox customer, you can update your smoked fish preferences today on your account!