THE BIG SMOKE
Arthur Enderby Ltd keeps
the traditions of the fish smokehouse burning…
One of only a handful of independent, family-run fish
smoking firms left in England, Grimsby’s Alfred Enderby Ltd still uses the same traditional methods that were carried out 100 years ago.
Enderby uses fresh fish bought at auction that morning: line-caught haddock and cod from sustainable fisheries in Iceland, Faroe and Norway; and salmon from farms in the Shetland Islands. The smokehouse’s own team of expert filleters immediately get to work removing the bones and any imperfections, before the filets are immersed in slat water
brine for up to 15 minutes before being drained on stainless steel rods or ‘speats’.
By the end of the day, the speats are slotted into the smokehouse chimneys to be smoked overnight. A regular flow of smoke is ensured by the chimneys, which have distinctive cowls on the top, designed to move with the wind direction to protect from downdrafts. The precise system of smoking has been refined over the years to infuse Enderby’s fish with the best natural flavours. The mixture of smoke and cold air in the process also means the smoking is carried out under relatively low temperatures– in contrast to the continental hot smoking style. The next morning, the smoked fillets are packed into boxes and chilled ready for transportation.
The highly skilled process is a craft in its own right: and one that has earned Alfred Elderby a Protected Geograhical Indication from the European Union. While modern mechanical kilns mean that fish can be smoked on a more industrialised scale, and with less training, nothing can match the unique flavours achieved via the knowledge of Grimsby’s traditional smokers, using techniques passed down for a century from fathers to sons.
Photographs India Hobson, Words Mark Hooper