Chefs Aaron Webster and Remi Williams started their roving restaurant Smoke & Salt to celebrate ancient cooking techniques — you’ll currently find them cooking in a shipping container in Pop Brixton. We caught up with them to find out about their love of barbecue and to pick their brains for pro tips!
Why did you choose to focus on smoking and live fire cooking?
Using smoke and live fire lie at the heart of all cooking techniques and without fire, we wouldn’t be standing upright on two legs! Our ethos here at Smoke & Salt is ‘Modern Dining, Ancient Techniques.’ You can’t get more ancient than fire.
What’s your favourite grilled dish from the Smoke & Salt menu, past or present?
Grilling features prominently on our menus, and while we have evolved that usage to meet our current small-plates menu, we both fondly remember our very first dish as a supper club. Smoked and umeboshi-glazed chicken leg with humita and radishes. It took a bit of trial by fire to figure out how to brine, then smoke and THEN lightly grill and glaze chicken legs to perfection, but we were so proud of the end product.
Which other live fire/barbecue cooks inspire you?
Faviken’s cooking style is very much about packing a tonne of flavour and deliciousness into each dish, and despite not having had the chance to go and visit (yet!), Magnus Nielsen demonstrates immense patience as well as the skill of using fire and wood on larger cuts of meat as well as more subtle vegetables.
Interview by Helen Graves
What’s your go-to barbecue dish when you have mates coming over?
Go-to barbecue always means a fresh sausage. It’s easy to get an over-the-counter sausage but slowly and gently applying heat through grilling and the smell of effervescing pork drippings literally oozes ‘barbecue’. We currently have a fresh chorizo on the menu that we wrap with caul-fat, grill quickly, but then slowly allow to cook-through in it’s own charred and rendered fat – so good!
Any top barbecue tips for our readers?
Always try to create two zones on the barbecue – one scorching hot and one not so much. This gives some items a bit more time to cook fully, especially vegetables and bigger cuts of meat, which can absorb all of that flavour from the wood and coals while you enjoy your ‘quicker-to-cook’ items such as burgers!
Finally, which is your favourite article in the latest issue of Pit? (No pressure!)
‘Globally Sauced’ was actually bang-on cue for us because it confirmed our thoughts on what is termed as a ‘barbecue sauce’ (Ed: our Globally Sauced article covered the different types of barbecue sauces found around the world). We recently did a collaboration with East London Liquor Company and of course, had to feature a whiskey barbecue sauce to pair with our slow-cooked pork collar. Of course, this couldn’t be anything normal, so we cottoned onto the idea of actually making a white barbecue sauce. In our case, this meant taking the un-caramelised and natural flavours of some homemade preserves and combining them with lightly smoked spices and whiskey. The key was not to cook out the booze so you could actually taste the stuff, meaning the sauce was never going to be slathered on or used in reckless abundance.
Smoke & Salt, Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, London, SW9 8PQ