Arbroath smokie is a whole small haddock fish, dry salted in tubs and smoked over smoking pits. If it all sounds like a folk tale, it’s because it is: a true smokie is only haddock, and only produced in the traditional way in the fishing villages around Arbroath in Angus, Scotland.
For those who have just gone: ‘riiiiight, this carburettor smokie is about as accessible for me as fresh tomatillos are for the Swedes and the whale blubber for YOU, Cuisine Fiend person’; the smokie is not the crucial ingredient of this salad. It can be swapped for another easily flaked smoked fish: mackerel, trout, halibut or salmon. To be honest it would be nice even with shredded, smoked chicken or duck but the smokiness plays a key part.
The other key part is the dressing and the combination of flavours. I owe much to Hank the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook whose vaguely Vietnamese smoked shad (whaaat? whale blubber next) salad was my inspiration.
If you can get a smokie though, do try it: I spent years staring vacantly at them on a fish stall, thinking it was kipper’s even bonier cousin – or something. Couldn’t be more wrong: it’s divinely flaky and not so bony. If you’re a (wasteful!) picky person, just lift the flesh off the back sides leaving the small bones in the belly side for a more frugal and patient family member to pick.