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Joining from Japan

kunseimania

Fire Starter
33
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Joined Sep 20, 2020
Hello,
I've gotten into smoking a lot this year and have found this website useful. As I did a smoke today, I thought I'd take some pictures, join the site and post my pics.
I live in Japan but am from Britain originally. Incidentally, cherry wood is one of the most popular woods for smoking here, probably because of the Japanese love for cherry blossoms.

Anyway, I started smoking this year after buying a cardboard box smoker for 300 yen (less than $3US). I still use it, as you can see in one of the pics, but it's on its last legs now. Funny thing is, although it's really basic and I have no idea of internal temperatures, I've never gone wrong with. I also bought a metal smoker (in pics as well), which looks fancier, but is harder to use. I got a temperature gauge for it a couple of months ago, and that has been really helpful.
So today, I was smoking some spare ribs, pork cartilage, a few sausages (bought), a couple of wee trout, and a piece of sawara, which is a type of mackerel. I've found fish quite hard to smoke; my basic rule is: "smoking should make the food taste better", and when I've smoked pork belly, ribs, steak, chicken wings, and hormon (I think this is the lining of one a the cow's stomach), I've managed to fulfil this. But with fish, I've generally found that the fish would be better cooked in a different way, or even eaten raw (hey, I mentioned I live in Japan, right?). I tried some bream, which wasn't great, and some mackerel, which had a good texture but not great flavour.

For the meat, I was using whisky oak chips and a bit of peat powder (imported from Scotland! I had to buy it and try it!). For the fish I was using oak chips. The oak (nara) is on the left, the whisky oak on the right, and the peat in the front.
Smoking chips and peat.jpg

First the ribs. I put a bit of a spicy rub on them, them let them marinade in 2 tablespoons of apple kurozu. Kurozu literally means "black vinegar" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_vinegar).
Ribs ready to smoke.jpg

Apple vinegar.jpg


Then I put them in the smoker. The smoker has two levels, and after two hours, I switched the stuff on the top level with the stuff on the bottom. This is called "gekokujou" in Japanese smoking circles*. I started with a temp of about 70*C. but increased to about 85*C later. As my temperature gauge is in the top of the smoker, I think the lower part nearer the heat source actually get hotter. In future, I will keep the temp around 70*C on the gauge, as some stuff got a little overcooked near the heat source.
*This is not true, but gekokujou is the perfect word here.
Temperature at beginning_2.jpg


Ribs and stuff in the smoker.jpg


The metal smoker.jpg

I added the peat powder twice, once at the beginning, and once after 2 hours. I think adding peat near the end of the smoke adds its flavour better the meat. This time, I thought the whisky oak overpowered the peat a bit too much, although the final products were good.
Smoked ribs and sausages.jpg

You can see in the picture that some stuff caught a little too much on the bottom layer. However, the young 'uns loved the sausages, and ribs were popular too. The pork cartilage was really tasty, but I don't have pictures of that.

The fish was done in the cardboard smoker, with the oak chips. After putting salt on the trout , and salt, a little pepper, and a gentle dab of cooking sake on the sawara, I smoked them for a little over 2 hours, low and slow. After taking them out, both the trout and sawara were tender, and very tasty. We squeezed some kabosu juice on them, which was a good addition, and all of us--children and adults--enjoyed them. I was particularly pleased with the trout, and would definitely do them again. The oak-smoke really added to the flavour of the trout without overpowering it. The sawara was also good and really easy to do, so I can see myself doing more of this in the future.
Trout and sawara in smoker.jpg


The cardboard smoker.jpg


Smoked trout and sawara.jpg

Finally, we also had a barbecue going, so I did some squid (pictured) and wagyu (not pictured) and veggies on it, and enjoyed a cold brew (pictured)
Squid on the barbie.jpg


Cold brew ready to go.jpg


I'm really interested in the smoking rigs I've seen on this site, and am looking to move on to something a little more upscale. While my smoking setups produce good results, I have to constantly watch over them to make sure the heat source doesn't go out.
Yoroshiku!
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Apr 25, 2015
Welcome to the forum! Always good to hear from folks with "other lands, other customs" as my German forbears say. I don't do much fish, but I'm sure many will chime in with advice. Cooking with peat instead of wood sounds weird to me, but Scottish grains roasted that way make pretty good whisky. Although I prefer bourbon over scotch, that cold beer certainly looks great.

One small piece of advice, for what it's worth, based on the difference in doneness in your sausage... I suggest a thin metal shield in the infrared line of sight from your meat to the hot fuel, partic for low and slow cooking. That should reduce those apparent "hot spots" in your cooker.
 

Khrakk

Fire Starter
60
54
Joined Sep 15, 2019
Welcome from east Texas!

I spent 4 months in Japan, near Saporo, and although I never got into smoking while I was there, we (my coworkers and I) purchased a bbq grill similar to your metal smoker. Grilling was something that reminded us of home. I never realized Japan had a smoking community. Japan had the best calamari steaks, ever. I wonder how they would be smoked?

I'm looking forward to hearing about your smoking stories, and seeing the different types of foods that are smoked on that part of the world.

Welcome again!
 

SmokinAl

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Welcome to SMF!
Looks like your doing a great job with what you have available!
Looking forward to seeing more of your work!
Al
 

Inscrutable

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Welcome! If there was an award for ‘came the furthest’ you’re likely the leader in the clubhouse. 😁
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
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22
Joined Sep 20, 2020
Welcome to the forum! Always good to hear from folks with "other lands, other customs" as my German forbears say. I don't do much fish, but I'm sure many will chime in with advice. Cooking with peat instead of wood sounds weird to me, but Scottish grains roasted that way make pretty good whisky. Although I prefer bourbon over scotch, that cold beer certainly looks great.

One small piece of advice, for what it's worth, based on the difference in doneness in your sausage... I suggest a thin metal shield in the infrared line of sight from your meat to the hot fuel, partic for low and slow cooking. That should reduce those apparent "hot spots" in your cooker.
Not sure I can slide in a thin piece of metal, but it does give me an idea: I could fashion a metal cover over the heat source and chips with holes in it to allow the smoke to get out, while keeping the temperature down.
Although, I should have just turned the sausages a bit more often, and changed the direction they were facing.

As for the peat, it's only the second time I've used it. It produces a good smoke, but I've been pretty conservative with the amounts used as I am not sure how much of a peaty flavour is good. I'm also not a huge fan of really peaty whiskies like Bowmore, so I don't want my barbecue to taste like that.
So, still testing/learning.
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
33
22
Joined Sep 20, 2020
Welcome from east Texas!

I spent 4 months in Japan, near Saporo, and although I never got into smoking while I was there, we (my coworkers and I) purchased a bbq grill similar to your metal smoker. Grilling was something that reminded us of home. I never realized Japan had a smoking community. Japan had the best calamari steaks, ever. I wonder how they would be smoked?

I'm looking forward to hearing about your smoking stories, and seeing the different types of foods that are smoked on that part of the world.

Welcome again!
Thank you! I'm really the opposite side of Japan from Sapporo, though I really need to visit Hokkaido some time. Still not been, even though I've lived in Japan for years.

I'm not sure how much of a smoking community there is here. Costco and Household Goods stores sell proper BBQ rigs which could be used for smoking, but I think most people just use them for grilling over charcoal rather than actual smoking.
There are also lots of little, portable smokers available, such as what I have; I get the impression that people see smoking as an extension of camping, along the lines of go camping, get camp fire/barbecue going, set up portable smoker while barbecuing.
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
33
22
Joined Sep 20, 2020
Welcome to SMF!
Looks like your doing a great job with what you have available!
Looking forward to seeing more of your work!
Al
Thank you! Looking forward to learning more about the art of smoking on this site.
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
33
22
Joined Sep 20, 2020
Welcome! If there was an award for ‘came the furthest’ you’re likely the leader in the clubhouse. 😁
Leader in the clubhouse? Does that mean I have wait around on the putting green waiting for the leaders to finish, or can I prop up the bar for an hour or two?:emoji_yum:
 

chopsaw

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Welcome to the site . Interesting cooks , and smoker . Enjoy .
OK I have to ask . Can you read Japanese ?
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
33
22
Joined Sep 20, 2020
Welcome to the site . Interesting cooks , and smoker . Enjoy .
OK I have to ask . Can you read Japanese ?
Pretty much. I can read newspapers, novels, and what have you. Sometimes have to look up the occasional word or expression.
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Apr 25, 2015
Not sure I can slide in a thin piece of metal...Although, I should have just turned the sausages a bit more often, and changed the direction they were facing.
We have round, flat pastries called pies in USA that typically come in an aluminum "pie plate" that you could just place on your hot fire. The smoke will go around the sides. Turning and moving the meat around will work too!

As for the peat, it's only the second time I've used it. It produces a good smoke...
But how does it smell? What you smell is a pretty good indicator of how the meat will taste. Smoking barley, then distilling alcohol from the grain, is quite a bit more removed.
 

daspyknows

Meat Mopper
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Joined Jun 9, 2020
Welcome from California. For the fish do you have access to other kinds of woods in Japan. Fruit woods maybe?
 

Inscrutable

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Never know ... you might get edged out by a Tibetan monk smoking a Yak 😁
 

Inscrutable

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Apr 4, 2019
Leader in the clubhouse? Does that mean I have wait around on the putting green waiting for the leaders to finish, or can I prop up the bar for an hour or two?:emoji_yum:
Never know ... you might get edged out by a Tibetan monk smoking a Yak 😁
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
33
22
Joined Sep 20, 2020
We have round, flat pastries called pies in USA that typically come in an aluminum "pie plate" that you could just place on your hot fire. The smoke will go around the sides. Turning and moving the meat around will work too!


But how does it smell? What you smell is a pretty good indicator of how the meat will taste. Smoking barley, then distilling alcohol from the grain, is quite a bit more removed.
I have some aluminium plates like that, as I use them to put my charcoal and wood chips on when I'm smoking! You've given me a great idea: I'll punch some holes in the plate I put on top, which will improve the oxygen flow to the charcoal, and help the smoke spread.

Now regarding the peat, it smells, well, earthy. For that reason, I've been conservative with its use because I didn't want my food to taste too earthy, but it my two attempts so far I've been left thinking a bit more of that peaty fallout would help.
I'm still experimenting, but so far I have not found the peat to be detrimental. However, I would hesitate from using it with fish until I tried it a lot more with meat. From the smell of the smoke, it seems like it would leave a really strong taste, but so far, my results have not shown that to be true. I intend to be using more of it in my next smoke. Also, I can only get only of peat powder here; a proper smoking with real sods of peat may produce wildly different results.
 

kunseimania

Fire Starter
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Joined Sep 20, 2020
Welcome from California. For the fish do you have access to other kinds of woods in Japan. Fruit woods maybe?
Apple is easily accessible, and I could probably get hold of the wood from persimmon. With a bit of effort I think I can find stuff that isn't readily available in the USA, such as Kabosu and Yuzu. Has anyone tried pear wood here? I might just be able to find Japanese pear (nashi) wood to use for smoking. This is one aspect of smoking in Japan that I am really excited to look into.
There are one or two other native hardwoods I am looking to get hold of for smoking, but it might take me some time.
 

Bearcarver

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Welcome Yoro!!
Glad you Joined us!
Like.
Your Vittles look Great, and the Rainbow Trout look Tasty!!
Do they call them "Rainbows" in Japan??

Bear (from SouthEast Pennsylvania)
 

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