Most people know about Scottish smoked salmon, but Scotland’s best-kept culinary secret is another kind smoked fish:
The Arbroath Smokie
Smokies are a delicious wood-smoked haddock from the area around Arbroath, on the eastern coast of Scotland. The fish arrive at the picturesque harbour and are immediately salted, then tied together and hung to dry overnight. They’re then placed over a wood fire to smoke for around an hour. The process gives the fish a somewhat unappealing colour but they taste amazing; a melt-in-the-mouth combination of creaminess and smokiness.
The locals are fond of saying that even people who don’t like fish usually like Smokies.
They love Smokies so much that there is even a book, called the Smokie Bible, dedicated to them!
Smokies have a thousand-year history, and the name Arbroath Smokie is now a European Protected Geographical Indication, which means that only a haddock smoked in the traditional way within an 8-mile radius of the village of Arbroath can call itself that. You can buy them in any fish shop around Scotland, often with the twine they were hung with still attached, but it’s definitely worth visiting the area to get a freshly-made Smokie straight from the source.
The local council actually publishes a brochure called “The Smokie Trail” which tells you where you can taste them. Visit a producer to get some fresh from the smoker, or go to a local restaurant to try them in myraid different ways - everyone has their favourite recipe. The Old Boatyard even serves up a Smokie ice-cream if you’re feeling especially brave!
Whatever you do, don’t miss the legendary Smokie pancakes at the But 'n' Ben restaurant in nearby Auchmithie, a small fishing village where Smokies were first made. A top tip is to go there on Sunday for the copious High Tea which comprises a main meal, followed by scones and cake and is served with a warming cup of tea.
Build up an appetite first by walking there from Arbroath along the stunning coastal path. Depending on the season, you could spot puffins, dolphins or even falcons along the way.