My second favourite way to eat fish for breakfast (a close second to Smoked Haddock and poached egg)
Sadly although I do a lot of fishing, we rarely catch decent sized Herring and therefore I’m always on the lookout for them in local fishmongers, recently I’ve found a good supply of local (Cornish) Herring in a supermarket in Falmouth.
I really don’t like buying kippers as I’m never 100% sure of the method used to smoke them and they’re so easy to do yourself and taste fantastic.
I start by buying the most fresh fish I can find, always whole fish, at the moment they’re about £5 per Kg.
When I get the fish home, I butterfly them as soon as possible.
My filleting skills are OK but I’m no pro, I tend to use a strong pair of scissors to cut through the top of the mouth through the top of the head and then use a sharp filleting knife to cut right down one side without cutting into the belly.
Once the cut is done (I prefer the traditional method of leaving the head on), unfold the fish to reveal the guts and gills, pull both out.
I do them all in one go and keep the freshly cut fish in a bowl and then pull out the innards all together and rinse all the fish.
Prepare a simple 70% brine solution (232g of PDV salt to 1 litre of water) by mixing cold water and the salt – I prefer PDV salt for most curing I do as it is cheap (about £15 for a 25Kg sack delivered from Amazon).
Depending on the number of fish and amount of brine, either place all the fish in the brine in a bowl or in a strong food grade polythene bag.
Keep the fish in the brine for an hour and a half, keep in the fridge during the brining.
Once the brining has finished, pour away the liquid and wrap the fish in towels and put back in the fridge over night (don’t wash off the brine).
The next day, first thing in the morning, I prepare the smoke house (you can do this in a BBQ with a cold smoke generator). Ideally you want to cold smoke the fish for 24 hours.
I hang the fish on the wire rack in the smoker and pass a wooden skewer through the gills to hang them vertically which helps the moisture drain out.
Choice of wood for smoking is personal preference and the traditional method is 100% Oak but I usually make a blend of 70% Oak, 20% Cherry and 10% Beech.
Keep the smoker going for 24 hours if you can or if you can’t keep it going over night then a bit of gap in between smoking won’t cause you a problem.
Once the fish is smoked the kippers are ready! You probably won’t be able to resist eating one immediately but the flavour develops if you can leave them a few days.
I tend to vac pac them straight out of the smoker to keep me from getting into trouble and smoking the whole house out, you can pop them in the freezer then too and they stay in better condition if vac packed.
There’s not much that can go wrong and you’ll end up with the best kippers you’ve ever tasted at a fraction of the price you’d pay for commercially produced kippers.
Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!