Smoking food is an age-old way of preserving meat — but depending on how you do it, you might only be extending the shelf life for a little while.
"There are two methods of smoking," said food writer Beth Dooley in a recent conversation with MPR News host Tom Crann. "One is cold smoke, which is a long process, and that is used primarily to enhance the flavor of fish or meat. The other is hot smoking which actually cooks the product, and in that case it's usually safe to eat after it's been hot smoked."
Smoked Whitefish Cakes
Serves 4 (easily doubled)
Note: You can easily substitute smoked trout or salmon. Serve with horseradish-spiked mayo, a tangy tartar sauce or ranch dressing — Courtesy of Beth Dooley.
• 2 russet or baking potatoes
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives
• 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
• 2 to 4 tbsp. milk or cream, if needed
• 1/2 lb. skinless, boneless, flaked, smoked fish
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Generous pinch red pepper flakes
• 1/2 cup flour
• 2 to 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke a few holes in the potatoes with a fork, and bake until tender, about 35 minutes.
Remove potatoes from oven and, when cool enough to handle, peel and pass through a coarse sieve or ricer or mash in a bowl.
Work into the potatoes the chopped onion, lemon zest, and just enough milk or cream to make a light mash. Fold in the smoked fish and season with the salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Shape the fish cakes into four or eight patties, then lightly dredge in the flour and set aside on a separate plate or parchment paper.
Put enough oil in a heavy skillet to thoroughly coat and set over medium-high heat. When the oil sputters slightly, fry the fish cakes in batches until browned and very crisp, about 3 minutes per side, adjusting the heat if they're browning too fast. Hold the cooked fish cakes in a 250-degree oven until ready to serve.