Jason Kessler discovers an English family that brings their multi-generational secrets of smoking fish to Oz.
The world is getting smaller. French pomme frite have become America’s favorite side dish; pizza that originated in Italy can be found in every corner of the globe, and the McRib is the first food fit for mass consumption that was developed on a spaceship*(1). While we Americans may pride ourselves on our melting pot culture, Australia shares a similar history of multi-cultural diversity. That’s why it’s no small wonder that you can find a father-son team of English fish smokers in a German village that happens to reside in the middle of South Australia.
If you ever find your way to South Australia, it’s a good bet that someone will send you to Hahndorf. Founded over 170 years ago by German settlers, this tiny village would be more at place near Hamburg than Adelaide with shops hawking everything from traditional sausages like mettwurst to lederhosen for all ages. Right in the middle of it all, though, you’ll find Harris Smokehouse.
Originally from England, the Harris family brought their fifty years of fish smoking experience to South Australia in 1990. Since then, they’ve built up an impressive reputation as makers of some of the best smoked fish in the country. While they don’t import to the U.S., you can find Harris products all over Australia, from the cases of fishmongers at Adelaide’s Central Market to the breakfast plates at the ultra luxury Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island.
When most people think of smoked fish, their minds go immediately to smoked salmon. Harris does salmon and they do it well, but they also have a whole range of other smoked foods that you may not necessarily see anywhere else. Adam Harris, the youngest of the clan, makes a point of trying to introduce people to products they may not have tried before like the especially good, hot-smoked Tasmanian ocean trout that works perfectly as a salmon alternative. It has an amazingly deep pink color and the flavor is mild and almost sweet with none of the off-putting fishiness that some people associate with smoked fish.
If you want to go ultra-local, grab some smoked kingfish. It’s a Harris original that takes the indigenous South Australian yellowtail and amps up the flavor through their smoking process that involves twelve hours of salting before it gets cold-smoked in cool 68˚F oak wood smoke that gives it a subtle, sweet taste. You can also find more local specialties like hot-smoked barramundi, smoked Coffin Bay oysters, and smoked eel fillets.
It may seem odd to have a multi-generational fish smoking family from England set up in the middle of a Germanic town in South Australia, but it doesn’t seem to bother the Australians at all.
After all, the national catch phrase seems to be “no worries” and with fish like this, you won’t be worrying either.
*(1) This is not true.