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Recipe Development: Smoked Hake
Overview

Alison takes you through her thought process for her smoked hake dish. She takes inspiration from her local area and family background when creating her smoked hake dish using turf as her fuel. Watch as she talks through her flavour choices and how she brings her dish together.

Development Stages

Key Components:

Smoke - Turf is a big thing in Ireland and particularly in her family - in her recipe she uses the turf from her granddad's bog in county offaly. As a fuel it brings a delicate smokey flavour to the dish and she leans into the smokey flavours even more by smoking the butter, tying the other elements of the dish in with the hake nicely. To smoke the butter she uses a cooler temperature zone on her barbecue compared with the fish which is not quite the same as the cold smoking process in the first week but gives a similar effect.

Brine - Alison uses a brine to keep the fish moist whilst cooking it on the barbecue. Not only does it lock in moisture but it's a great way of imparting flavour as the salt penetrates the whole way through the fish. She uses a 10% brine (this refers to the percentage of salt in the solution) to add a nice saltiness and combines that with seaweed and sugar for flavour.

Native ingredients - Foraging is a great way to bring the flavours of your local area to your cooking. Alison uses sea beet which she picked wild to wrap her artichokes, steaming the leaves in foil. She also uses an Irish cider vinegar in the sauce with white wine to balance out the fattiness of the butter.

Fish - This dish uses hake, a nice fish that takes on the smoke flavour really well. Also compared with cod it is less oily, softer, more delicate, less flakey and has more moisture.

Teachings:

  1. Fish Mongery - Learn to break down a whole hake which has both a round and flat bone structure. Once mastered, you'll understand the basics of how to fillet both a flat and round fish.
  2. Brining - Learn the science behind brining and how we use it to lock in moisture and tenderise meat or fish.
  3. Hot & cold smoking - Learn how to apply hot and cold smoking techniques to the same recipe by creating two zones of heat in your BBQ.

Make It Your Own:

  1. Turf - This dish is one for you to get creative with your smoking fuels. You can try charcoal, wood chips using different woods or that have come from barrels used in whiskey or wine production, or you can try using woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, lavender).
  2. Brine - Another great point in the recipe where you can experiment with different flavours. You can try herbs, other seaweeds or citrus fruits for example, whilst the brine solution is still warm.
  3. Sauce - There's not much fat on the plate which is why Alison decided to go for a butter-based sauce. You could blitz or chiffonade cut (fine ribbons) your seaweed and fold it through your butter sauce, different herbs and citrus juices would be a nice variation.
  4. Fish - If you don't fancy butchering your own fish you can just buy the top loin. If you change up the fish for example you could use haddock or mackerel, be aware the brining and cooking times might need to change slightly but feel free to experiment and see how you get on.
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Alison Tierney
I've worked in a variety of restaurants from casual to Michelin star and follow the ethos of using the best local produce from our Island.