Recipes: The smoke signals that led to success in seafood

Kipper pate with melba toast
Kipper pate with melba toast
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“I WAS literally thrown in at the deep end when I started in the fish business 12 years ago,” says Matthew Asquith, managing director of Whitby Seafish Ltd and a winner at this year’s Deliciously Yorkshire Awards.

“I knew nothing about fish at the time but had the opportunity to set up a fishmongers and smokehouse at Saltburn by the Sea, near Whitby. I was determined to supply the best quality fresh and smoked fish in the area.”

An ambition realised as Matthew picked up an award for his oak smoked salmon on Monday evening at Rudding Park. National seafood chef of the year Rob Green, of Green’s restaurant in Whitby says: “This is undoubtedly one of the best smoked salmon available. It is slightly salted, gently smoked and has a great texture.”

Matthew says: “The salmon is dry cured with a little salt for 18 hours, rinsed and then smoked over oak wood shavings at a low temperature.

“We also produce an oak roasted salmon, which is smoked at a higher temperature to produce salmon with succulent flakes and a deep brown, roasted surface.”

Smoked salmon has been “cooked” by the smoking process and any further cooking has to be done carefully. It can be stirred through a creamy pasta sauce, added to softly scrambled eggs or gently baked in the custard filling of a quiche but it must not be over cooked as it becomes dry and tasteless.

The delicate coral flesh of the oak smoked salmon looks wonderful on a plate with a few simple additions such as chopped boiled egg, a few capers and a little horseradish sauce. Any rye bread tastes good with smoked salmon such as the Russian Borodinsky bread, now produced by the Village Bakery, Cumbria and sold in good supermarkets.

The flavours in Matthew’s oak smoked salmon are deep and complex. I can detect the aromatic notes of clove, leather, caramel and vanilla as I chew. It is these flavours, together with its colour and texture which sets this smoked salmon apart.

Interestingly scientists have found the same smoked flavours in barrel-aged wines which make such a classic pairing with smoked fish.

Matthew also smokes haddock which is wonderful in kedgeree or Cullen skink (below), and kippers which make great pâté.

None of Matthew’s smoked products are dyed. They do not need to be. “If the smoking process is long enough, colours develops naturally as the smoke and heat react with the protein in the fish and cause a colour change. Dyes and artificial smoke flavours are a short cut and used to colour and flavour fish when the smoking time is reduced,” explained Matthew.

For more information about Whitby Seafish Ltd and the online shop visit

Oak smoked salmon with capers, parsley and horseradish sauce

Serves 4

150g oak smoked salmon, 4 tsp capers, small bunch of parsley, rinsed and finely chopped, 2 hardboiled egg (simmered for 10 min), cooled and chopped, 1 lemon, cut into wedges, 4 slices of rye bread. For the horseradish sauce: 4 tbsp of crème fraîche, 1 tsp cream of horseradish, rye bread to serve

Lay each ingredient carefully on individual plates. Mix the crème fraîche with the creamed horseradish and serve the smoked salmon with lightly buttered rye bread.

Oak roasted salmon with beetroot salad

Serves 4

4 small beetroot – red, golden or combination of both, mixed leaves, 200g oak roast salmon – sliced, small bunch of dill – finely chopped. For the dressing: 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 3 tbsp walnut oil, pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Cook the beetroot in boiling water until tender – about 20 min, depending on their size. Allow to cool, slip the skin off and slice. Combine the ingredients for the dressing, mix well and dress the salad leaves. Lay the salad leaves and beetroot on a plate followed by the oak roasted salmon. Scatter generously with chopped dill and a little more dressing. Serve with crusty bread or new potatoes.

Kipper pâté

Serves 4

1 kipper fillet – about 150g, 30g softened slightly salted butter left at room temperature for half an hour, 50g crème fraîche or cream cheese, freshly ground black pepper, grated nutmeg, lemon juice, chopped parsley,4 slices of medium sliced bread.

Preheat the grill to medium. Place kippers skin-side up in an ovenproof dish and put a small knob (5g) of butter on each one. Put the kippers under the grill for 5 minutes, basting them occasionally with the butter. Take out, peel off the skin and mince in a food processor. Beat the butter until creamy. Stir butter and crème fraîche into the minced kippers and mix well. Season the pâté with black pepper, grated nutmeg and a little lemon juice. Do not add any salt until you have tasted the pâté at this stage. Toast the bread, remove crusts, slice through the centre of the toast and cut into rectangles. Toast the untoasted sides of the cut toast and serve with the kipper pâté.

Cullen skink

50g butter, 1 onion finely chopped, 2 pints of full cream milk, 750g old potatoes such as King Edward, peeled and diced, 450g undyed smoked haddock fillet, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, and cook the onion until soft but not browned. Add the milk to the pan and bring to the boil. Add the diced potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, until they are very soft. Add the smoked haddock and simmer for four minutes. Lift the fish from the pan and place on a plate and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, crush some of the potatoes against the side of the pan to thicken the soup a little. When the smoked haddock is cool enough to handle flake the fish, return it to the pan and stir in the parsley. Season to taste and serve in soup bowls with some deliciously crusty bread and a bowl of peas – another great pairing with fish.

Next week: Jamie’s Great Britain.