Kingfish ham

Kingfish ham

Best Kitchen Basics
2 sides
Petrina Tinslay

This fish, indigenous to the coastal waters of Australia, is properly known here as the yellowtail kingfish. But, in Australia, where nothing is called by its correct name, it’s also known – depending where you are from – as albacore, bandit, hoodlum, king amberjack, kingfish, kingie, silver king, southern yellowtail, Tasmanian yellowtail, yellowtail, yellowtail amberjack and hiramasa.

I don’t particularly think this fish cooks well, but it is superb as sashimi and for this type of application. This is beautiful with slices of ripe melon.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 3-4kg kingfish
100g salt, (per kg fish)
80g sugar, (per kg fish)
wood chips, for smoking, (hickory for preference)


  1. Fillet and pin-bone the kingfish, leaving the skin on.
  2. Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl.
  3. Take a tray the length of the fish and line it with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang on all sides to wrap the fish. Place the two fish fillets on the tray side by side and cover each fillet with the salt and sugar cure.
  4. Put the fillets on top of each other and wrap with the plastic wrap. Ensure that the fish is very tightly wrapped – another layer of plastic wrap may be required.
  5. Leave the fish to cure in the refrigerator for 5–7 days, turning it each day so that it will cure evenly.
  6. Once the fish has cured, carefully rinse it under cold running water and pat dry.
  7. Cut down the centre line to produce four fillets – two shoulder, two belly.
  8. Put the fillets, flesh side up, on a wire rack over a tray and put on the top rack of a cold oven. Leave the oven door open.
  9. Fill an old ovenproof frying pan, which will fit in the oven, with wood chips. Place the pan of wood chips over high heat until they catch fire. Once alight, carefully shake the pan to disperse the chips and allow even burning. Once all the wood chips are burning, carefully put another ovenproof pan of the same size over the top of the first pan to snuff out the flames.
  10. Put the pans inside the oven on the bottom shelf. Remove the top frying pan and quickly close the oven door, trapping the smoke inside. Leave for 5 minutes or until all the smoke has dissipated. Repeat this process three times using fresh wood chips each time.
  11. After smoking, wrap the fish in muslin and refrigerate on a rack for 7–10 days. The belly hams will cure first due to their thickness. Use over the following month. They will also freeze well. Slice thinly before serving, if desired.
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