Smoked Wiggyfish à la rose
Total time : 2 days (but afterwards you can keep it for a while, so can prepare a lot in advance)
– 1 Wiggyfish (medium size or whatever you manage to catch)
– 2 cups water
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup salt
– 2 fresh New Babbage roses (every good urchin in town can provide you with some)
– 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
– 3 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
– cinderberry oil, for coating the fish
– Catch a Wiggyfish, butterfly it, remove the bones but keep the skin. Rinse. Cut into slices (they must fit into the pot and then the smoke house).
– Rinse and chop the rose petals into little pieces.
– Place water, salt, sugar, chopped rose petals, lemon juice and peppercorns in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
– Lay the Wiggyfish slices skin side down in a large pot, pour the cooled brine mixture over it and leave in a cold place overnight.
– The day after, remove the fish slices from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with a towel. Let sit while you prepare the fire.
– Soak some hardwood logs in a bucket of water for at least 15 minutes or collect some green wood (this generates more smoke). You will also need some dry wood.
– Prepare a campfire and a smoke shelter around it :
The ideal campfire pit is about three feet wide, four feet long, and two to three feet deep. This can be done using large strips of dry bark, or even corrugated metal (whatever you can find in the junkyard), leaned together at the top like a pyramid.
This should be ringed with rocks to a height of about two feet, which will help keep the smoke in and around the fish while still allowing enough air in at the base so that the fire doesn’t go out while smoking the food. You will need room inside to keep the fish about 12 inches above the flame. The idea is to smoke and to dry it, rather than cooking it.
– Build a small fire in the fire pit, with dry wood. It doesn’t need to be large, but it is great if you can build up a bed of coals.
– Brush the Wiggyfish slices all over with a thin film of cinderberry oil.
– When the fire is going, place the fish slices on sticks and hang them above the slow, smoky fire. Add a bit of green or water-soaked wood and leaves occasionally to keep the smoke heavy. If needed, add more dry wood to maintain the bed of coals.
– The smoking stage should take most of the day, so you can leave it mainly unattended and just come back every couple of hours to check on the fire and add more wood. The fish is cooked when a fork inserted into the thickest part is uncomfortably hot when touched to your lips. When done, the skin should peel off easily.
The smoked Wiggyfish à la rose can be used crumbled to add flavor to a number of dishes, or as one of the ingredients in a seafood plate or a fish pâté. But of course, it can also be served on its own, with a few petals of rose and cinderberries as a decoration, a thin layer of cinderberry oil to moisten it and some vegetables on the side.