Where there's smoke, there's flavour

When I was at school, I built a small smoker in metalwork class. It was big enough to hold four juicy mullet fillets. After throwing a handful of slightly moistened woodchips into the smoker with the fish, I put it on the barbecue and cranked up the heat. It smoked and cooked the fish in about 15 minutes.

The smell of smoking food is so satisfying - it must take us back to our caveman days.

If you don't have a smoker, a Weber barbecue works just as well. Get the coals red-hot, then throw on a handful of woodchips, sold at barbecue shops. Put the grill in, add whatever you want to smoke, close the lid and wait until the food is done. With this kind of hot smoking, you can cook almost anything, including chicken, quail and fish.

Cold smoking is different - it does not cook the food. The food is put in a chilled box then smoke is pumped in. Smoked salmon is made this way. Smoked trout can be bought from most delis if you don't feel like smoking it yourself, but I recommend giving it a go.

SMOKED TROUT, GRILLED ZUCCHINI AND HAZELNUTS WITH KASUNDI TOMATO RELISH

8 smoked trout fillets
4 zucchini
Olive oil
Salt
1 bunch watercress, tops picked and washed
1/2 bunch mint, leaves picked and washed
Lemon juice
200g hazelnuts, roasted and skin rubbed off, then chopped in half
8 tbsp kasundi tomato relish (see recipe below)

Cut zucchini lengthways into 4 slices. Oil and sprinkle with salt, then grill until slightly soft and well coloured. Put aside. Break each trout fillet into 3 and place on a plate. Dress the watercress and mint with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Place 3 pieces of zucchini and a few hazelnuts around the trout. Spoon small amounts of relish around the plate. Top with cress and mint.

Serves 8

KASUNDI TOMATO RELISH

125g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
60g garlic cloves
30g green chillies, seeds removed
250ml malt vinegar
125ml vegetable oil
45g black mustard seeds
15g ground turmeric
40g ground cumin
40g smoked paprika
5g hot paprika
1kg tomatoes, fresh or tinned, pureed
125g brown sugar
20g salt

Place ginger, garlic, chillies and 50ml of vinegar in a food processor and puree to a smooth paste. Heat oil, add dry spices and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt and remaining vinegar and simmer for an hour. When the oil comes to the top and the relish looks like a curry sauce, it is ready. Pour into sterilised jars and seal while still hot.

Makes 1.5 litres

The story Where there's smoke, there's flavour first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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