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What Is an Arbroath Smokie?

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  • Written By: Rodney A. Crater
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2014
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An Arbroath Smokie is fresh haddock smoked according to traditional smoking methods originating in of the village of Auchmithie and thereafter the town of Arbroath, Scotland. Production eventually settled in an area of Arbroath called fit o’ the toon. According the European Commission’s Protected Geographic Identification status, the title of Arbroath Smokie may now be given to these coppery brown, ready-to-eat delicacies only if they are made strictly within a limited distance surrounding Arbroath. Eaten alone, both cold and warm, served as a side dish, or blended into many delicious recipes, these smoked fish are considered hearty in aroma and flavor.

Only haddock is used to make an Arbroath Smokie, and it is strictly made by a warm smoking method. Unlike many smoked fillets, the backbone remains in these smoked fish, but it is easily removed when eating. Scottish Finnian Haddie, which were originally smoked over peat, are similar to the the Arbroath Smokie. So too are British Traditional Gimsby smoked fish, which may or may not be haddock. The kipper, made from herring, might also be considered alike in some ways, but all three of these other smoked fish are made by cold smoking. Warm smoked fish, like the Arbroath Smokie, may be eaten immediately after smoking, but cold smoked fish usually need to be cooked.

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Arbroath Smokies traditionally are created by first cleaning them thoroughly, removing the heads, and salting the fish for a few hours. Pairs of haddock are then tied together at the tails and placed across triangular shaped kiln sticks to keep the two fish separate during the smoking process. Smoking occurs over a smouldering hardwood fire in half a whiskey barrel, which has been placed in a pit in the ground. Wet jute sacks cover the haddock to keep smoke and heat dense around the fish while they are smoked for about an hour.

A wonderful and often time honoured element is added to dishes that utilize the robust flavour of Arbroath Smokies. They are often used in soups, such as Smoked Haddock Chowder or Cullen Skink, and recipes like Kedgeree, which was originally a left-over recapture dish. The Arbroath Smokie may be creamed in sauces that can be served atop food items or placed inside of pancakes for a hearty breakfast meal. Arbroath Smokie pie, crepes, mousses, and pates made with smoked haddock are a delight to many people. This fish also adds a grand taste to any salad when it is flaked and mixed throughout.

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