Genuine Smokies are still made using traditional methods dating back to the late 1800's. Whereby a haddock, identified by the distinctive thumb print behind each gill, is gutted, washed and boxed for auction at sea.
Once at the smoke house the first stage is to head and clean the fish before salting them for a period of time, usually overnight. This cures the fish allowing them to be kept for a period of time with no refrigeration. This probably dates back to when there were no fridges available.
The next step is to tie them in pairs before hanging on the traditional wooden sticks. These are then left to dry (drooth).
Meanwhile the "barrel" is prepared. Traditionally this was sunk into the ground to form a pit. Nowadays the barrel is above ground and constructed of brick approximately 2 metres square.
The fire is laid using any hardwood, this gives the smokies their distinctive colour and flavour. Once the fire is burning the sticks are laid across the top of the barrel approximately 3 feet above. Then the lid is closed and covered with a hessian cloth to let the fire breathe.
Smokies are generally "smoked" for anything between 45-90 minutes, depending on the wind conditions, type of fish and quality of wood at the time.
Once golden brown the smokies are ready to eat.
Smoking haddock is still very much a cottage industry in Arbroath with a designated area within the town. When visiting Arbroath head for the "fit of the toon" where your nose will soon lead you to the nearest smoke house.
The best way to enjoy this delicacy is straight off the barrel.