Photo credit: Domwa Mathieu (Cameroon)
Review: Domwa Mathieu and Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)
The inserted picture which was taken in Bambouto (Cameroon) shows a simple fish smoking process using barrel oven made from empty 200-liter oil drums.
The bottom of the barrel is cut out and placed on a sandy or gravel base. An inlet opening for the wood is then carved out of the bottom of the barrel. Through which, fuel sources are places, fire is let and controlled.
A smoking tray of wire mesh is usually fixed inside the barrel while a grill or wire mesh is placed on the top of the barrel. This will enable exposing fish on the internal tray to intense heat before moving it to the top grill to complete the smoking process in less heat intensity.
The fire is lit and controlled through the bottom openings whereas a wide variety of soft and hard woods, small wood splits, or sawdust is used. The choices are limited by availability, cost and tradition.
The small size of these smokers makes it easy for individual smokers to move around within the smoking area. Similarly, the small volume of such smokers along with the bottom fire makes the control of the smoking process easy especially in regard heat intensity and hence helps avoid burning and/or over-drying of the product. However, the production of very dry smoked product may be intended whenever longer shelf life is targeted.
If this type of smokers is found convenient for small-scale operations which are mostly run by women, these ovens are not appropriate for large-scale commercial ventures.