Hark techniques

All about smokers hot and cold
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Scooter22
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Joined: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:39 pm

Hark techniques

Post by Scooter22 » Sat Dec 07, 2013 7:54 pm

Hi All...Just joined and finding the site a great resource. I have just bought a Hark smoker from Aldi and downloaded the instruction manual from the website but am in a quandry with a couple of issues that I'm sure can be answered through here.

I was wanting to cold smoke some Tailor (after a good brining) and a couple of slabs of Salmon. I note the hark manual recommends a temp of around 70 C for the Tailor and 35 C for the Salmon. The issue I found during the initial smoke (with no food) was that firstly, I can't get the temp down below 80 (vent fully open) without the gas going out and secondly, the smoker pellets I bought from Masters (Sun up "Aussie smoker" pellets) dont produce any smoke below around 110 C. The other issue i can see is the pellets only last around 40/45 mins. Hardly enough for a lengthy smoking period without topping up often.

So, not sure where to go...hot smoke the fish and keep topping up the pellets on the way through. This could turn out to be an expensive exercise (bags of the pellets @450g = $20.00)

I think I read somewhere that the water bowl keeps the temp down...will the water bowl bring the temp down to around 35C but this still doesnt solve the problem of the non smoke producing pellets. Do wood chips work any better? How do they produce smoke without direct application of flame?

Thats about it for starters....all comments would be greatly appreciated. Cheers


urbangriller
Posts: 9453
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Location: Perth WA

Re: Hark techniques

Post by urbangriller » Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:21 pm

Have a look at how Mountain Mick does it: http://www.aussiebbq.info/forum/viewtop ... =10&t=8032

To cold smoke, don't use the gas. Light the pellets and let them smoulder. Put Ice and a handful of pool salt in the pan to drop the temperature.

Cheers
Chris
Common Sense is so rare these days it should be a Super Power!

Smokey
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Re: Hark techniques

Post by Smokey » Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:13 pm

For cold smoking what you have is just a handy box.
You need to work out a means to produce smoke without heat for many hours.
I solved it by doing this;
http://www.aussiebbq.info/forum/viewtop ... lit=smokai
As for fuel, Check out the pellet cooker threads and pick up a large bag or two from one of the Vendors down the bottom of the main page.
Much cheaper and will last.
I also have the beech wood chips from UG and that is hands down one of the best flavours I've used for anything, I often wonder why its not talked about more.
I bought that smokai and the hickory pellets / beech chips from Urban Griller and it is a sweet thing.
Im about to mount it onto my GMG pellet grill for cold smoking(GMG not turned on) and adding smoke during hot cooking (70c and up).
You should be able to get those temps via the various tricks like using only six heat beads and a smoke generator.

Re the Tailor, I love that fish and I can understand the instruction to hot smoke. Being a seriola its oily and soft, best done fresh and cooked.
You won't get the same result as the salmonids in true cold smoking. Though if you want you salmon cooked you could do them together
Just set your cooker as low as it will go and hot smoke them.

Dont be disheartened by your purchase, what you want is very possible when you look into it.
If trees screamed when we cut them down, We wouldn't. If they screamed all the time we would.
http://www.aussiecue.com.au

Scooter22
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:39 pm

Re: Hark techniques

Post by Scooter22 » Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:07 pm

Thanks Chris and Mick
Its 9.00 pm now and I'll get the Tailor into some brine and whip up something special for the salmon. Chris, putting some ice into the water makes sense to bring the temp down and don't use gas.
Thanks for that link Mick...very informative and i'll check out Urban Griller. Certainly not disheartened buying the hark...just need to get some tips on getting the best out of it. Thanks guys.
I think I'll try this first load as a hot smoke as low as possible.
My Dad used to smoke Mullet and Snook (SA) in an old home made smoker about the size of a fridge using a washing machine bowl full of sawdust. the taste was sensational. Need to find that flavour again...lol
I'll post some pics of the results.

peteru
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Hark techniques

Post by peteru » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:30 am

Scooter22 wrote:the smoker pellets I bought from Masters (Sun up "Aussie smoker" pellets) dont produce any smoke below around 110 C.
You can fix that by pulling the pellet box and the rack out of it's bracket and placing the whole thing on the floor of the smoker, such that the box sits much closer to the burner. I do that and also turn the gas down by going towards the OFF position as far as I can while still having a reliable flame. Those two tweaks can get you smoking at around 60C.
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Scooter22
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Joined: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:39 pm

Re: Hark techniques

Post by Scooter22 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 7:38 am

Thanks Pete. I mastered the concept of turning the gas knob right down. Will certainly try moving the pellet box onto the floor of the smoker. Are you still getting smoke from your pellets at that temp? What pellets do you use? Cheers

paulr
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Re: Hark techniques

Post by paulr » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:31 am

Good post scooter! I got my ALDI smoker last week (early chrissie present).
Am cooking on it today but hot smoking so...I used to use sand in my WSM the manula said water but.....
Will post pics, nothing fancy, smoked sausages and onions and potatoe...Sunday meal

Happy BBQ-ing, Paul
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peteru
Posts: 487
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Hark techniques

Post by peteru » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:38 am

Scooter22 wrote:Thanks Pete. I mastered the concept of turning the gas knob right down. Will certainly try moving the pellet box onto the floor of the smoker. Are you still getting smoke from your pellets at that temp? What pellets do you use? Cheers
I don't use pellets any more, but when I did I put a few in the box directly and a few in an aluminium foil pouch, to slow down the burn. These days I use wood chips and chunks, which I make myself by splitting wood blocks. I tend to use a mix of sizes, ranging from the size of a $2 coin all the way to something the size of a mini-hotdog.

The trick to get the smoke going is to start with a quick (60 second) blast on high, then at the first sign of smoke, turn the burner down and close the door. An alternative method is to light a largish piece of wood until it's got a decent size portion glowing red, then blow the flame out and add it to the box. Basically, you want to start slow combustion (without a visible flame) in some of the wood and then supply just enough heat to keep it going slowly. Takes some practice and monitoring.
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urbangriller
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Location: Perth WA

Re: Hark techniques

Post by urbangriller » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:46 am

In mine, I put the woodchip pan on the floor like petru said, I put the waterpan on top of that to choke the woodchips even more and open up the full volume of the smoker. Use Ice and pool salt in the waterpan....the salt drops the ice temperature.

Chris
Common Sense is so rare these days it should be a Super Power!

Scooter22
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:39 pm

Re: Hark techniques

Post by Scooter22 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:11 pm

Hi Paul. I'm on the Goldy and have the Hark belching smioke like the cannonball express at the moment. There are half a dozen Tailor and two slabs of Salmon in there happily soaking up the smoke since 8.30 this morning (brined em overnight). All looks good so far. Been cooking around 70C with a 1/3 cup top up of smoke pellets every hour or so. I figure there's another couple of hours to go at least. Yes...mine was an early christmas present...to me...lol. I figured it was no use staying in the box till christmas. Besides..not enough room under the tree. Be interested to hear how you go with yours today....

Pete...thanks for that advice. Certainly will try the pellets in a foil pouch with a hole...makes sense.The use of the wood chips appeals more to me than pellets. I can well understand that this would need to be an art to perfect....looks like I'll be busy over the xmas break. Do I understand correctly that the wood chips will smoke in the tray without direct application of flame. That is, just with the gas burner heating from below? I guess you wouldnt soak first as the chips wouldnt smoulder? Or if not using the gas burner....would you use a couple of heat beads to keep things on a roll.

Chris...thanks for that tip...ice in the water seems to be the go. How low can you get your temp down?

urbangriller
Posts: 9453
Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:46 pm
Location: Perth WA

Re: Hark techniques

Post by urbangriller » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:07 pm

Scooter22 wrote: Do I understand correctly that the wood chips will smoke in the tray without direct application of flame. That is, just with the gas burner heating from below?

I guess you wouldnt soak first as the chips wouldnt smoulder?

Or if not using the gas burner....would you use a couple of heat beads to keep things on a roll.

Chris...thanks for that tip...ice in the water seems to be the go. How low can you get your temp down?
The woodchips will smoke in the tray, but you need a reasonable heat to get them going, Soaked woodchips take longer to get going and you get the best smoke penetration when the food is cold, so consider getting some lump charcoal and lighting a small bit with a blow torch, then use that to start your woodchips.

The Ice/Salt trick will bring an esky to -18C, depends on the ambient temperature, but on a mild day 20C is easily achievable.

Cheers
Chris
Common Sense is so rare these days it should be a Super Power!


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