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Smokin…..(best said with a Joey accent) “Smoke on the water, fire in the sky” – Deep Purple, if onl

Always looking to twist traditional dishes without squeezing the life out of them by just adding subtle changes, became a concept for me back in 1997 when in the company of an amazing Chinese chef, who had never been to Europe but who enjoyed sampling my food. The love of Asian fresh food was mutually returned and so it started, what has now been known world wide as Fusion!

Did I start it…….sadly not although I m adamant that Sainsbury s stole my “TWISTING” methods from me being on twitter.

I think most people would agree there is nothing like an old fashioned BBQ flavor. Whilst the original charcoal and wood chip grills are slowly being replaced by the easier gas bottle version, in my opinion there is no comparison. Its just Lazy!

So, the intro

Smoking when applied to food, was predominantly used to preserve, brown or flavor food. Meats, fish and tea actually, lead the list. Woods for smoking are now in abundance with the adapted wood chips on offer. Oak is the main contender, although most people are more aware of hickory, mesquite from the bottle labels on BB sauce. If you really look into things when your obsession for smoking takes over, then Maple, apple, even pecan join the race.

In China they use Chinese tea-smoking, a mixture of uncooked rice, sugar, and tea, heated at the base of a wok. This takes more practice as I have found out, but the results can be amazing.

Various countries have varying methods and this is where I have been interested in learning and applying those methods to various foods.

( I might add at this point in my blog, that smoking methods should be adhered too as smoking food directly with wood smoke can contaminate foods and cause stomach issues, BUT, once methods are learnt you will be hooked.)

The History –

Lets go back, to those cavemen. Yep, all the way back then. Mud huts and homes rarely had chimneys, resulting in many homes having that distinct smell of smoke. Hanging their catch inside was their only option to stop flies and after time, they realized the taste of such meats was different from those left outside to hang. After the hanging the brining and or curing was done to finish the preservation of foods thereafter.

My last few months in the West Indies have led me to cooks on the streets that without doubt have mastered the art of the real BBQ. The smoking ones, that leave you wanting more. I ve seen some fabulous smokers made from one mans trash and converted to another mans livelihood.

Varying cuts of chicken and pork all smoked to perfection and then served alongside that perfect jerk sauce.

Lobster a delicate meat and normally something I would never consider to be abused in such machines, was cooked on one grill in Nassau at the Fish Fry. A local food market frequented by Bahamians twerking their way through the night and eating some of the best grilled and smoked food you will ever try.

“Frank Zapper and the mothers were at the best place around”

I returned this favor in Antigua by taking some dried lemon grass from the rain forest walks, and adding this to the heated but now switched off grill, before letting my lobster tails sit in the smoke filled drum for an hr.

I have returned to France and now re stocking my fridge with my basics for the spring/summer, which is almost upon us! Rather optimistic you might say as I sit blogging in torrential rains and rather grey skies, however I need the basics if I m going to entertain and entertain I shall.

Bluebell was bought out of hibernation and set up to start smoking my garlic bulbs. As the ashes almost disappeared through the grill plates I threw on some hay and oak chips and left the garlic bulbs over night in the smoking, cooling drum of Bluebells beating heart.

The following day was repeated with fresh figs and some duck breasts previously cured, and now I feel I ve started the season as I mean to go. Fresh local produce, alongside some newly acquired West Indian flavors……..

Now if you fancy trying some smokey items before you invest in your smoked, then I can recommend the Chesil Smokery in Bridport Dorset. Take a look at this site and sample for yourself or send a gift to one of friends. They will thank you for it.

“No matter what we get out of this, I know we will never forget”

Deep Purple says it like it is, but I have a feeling I m more a case of “The Platters”…..smoke gets in your eyes. The lyrics are so me.


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