Smoked Fish in the Nigerian Way


Smoked fish is a type of preserved fish that has been cured by smoking. The fish is typically hung or laid out on racks, and it’s exposed to the smoke from a fire for a period of time. This process both dries and flavors the fish, making it last longer and giving it a unique flavor. Smoked fish is popular in many parts of the world, including Nigeria. It’s often used in dishes like pepper soup, jollof rice, and fried rice.

The only fish that should be used for Smoked Fish in Nigerian recipes is Mackerel, also known as Titus in Nigerian Igbo (Azu Eke). The good news is that you can find these fish anywhere in the world.

On this page, I’ll give details of how you can replicate the process and enjoy smoked fish wherever you are in the world.

What You Need to Make Smoked Fish

Make as much as you like and store in your freezer; smoked fish keeps nicely in the freezer.

  • Fish mackerels
  • Salt (as desired)


  • Toothpicks: One for every fish
  • Oven

Note: For this, you can use a regular kitchen oven (gas or electric) or a microwave oven with a grill function. I find that using a traditional kitchen oven produces superior results, thus I prefer it. Additionally, I have better control while grilling.

Before you smoke the fish,

  1. Remove the gills and the fish’s guts to clean it. As done by smoked fish vendors in Nigeria, you can choose to leave the guts in, however doing so gives the fish a bitter flavor. This is why I remove the intestines before smoking the fish.
  2. To get rid of all the blood, give the fish a good rinse.
    Coat the fish with a layer of salt. Fish may quickly get too salted, so be careful when adding salt.
  3. Fish should be bent such that the tail fin is over the mouth. The fish will appear to be biting off its tail fin in this way.
  4. Pinch the fish’s top and lower jaws with the toothpick.
  5. For the remaining fish, repeat these steps.

Let “smoke” the fish

STEP 1. Line the oven rack with foil.

STEP 2. After the fish has been bent and pinned, place it on the oven rack covered with foil and top it with another foil sheet.

STEP 3. Preheat your oven to 250°C (480°F), top and bottom (bake). The fish is cooked by using the bake setting before it dries.

STEP 4. Fry for fifteen minutes. If your mackerel is larger than mine, bake it for a much longer period of time.

STEP 5. After removing every foil layer, turn the oven to grill or broil, and continue grilling the fish for an additional 10 minutes, or until it has browning.

All Nigerian recipes calling for smoked fish may now utilize this species.

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