We took the mackerel bones and soaked them in a 5% salt solution for 30 minutes. Then we put them into a smoking tray and smoked them for an hour. We used maple wood chip pucks in our Bradley smoker. When the bones and trim were smoked we cooled them down and refrigerated them overnight.
The following day we debated. The initial idea was to make a smoked mackerel broth. The thing is that most of the time we end up reducing them down to an essence. Or at the very least we reduce them a bit to concentrate the flavor. Instead of following our usual process we tried something different. If we wanted a flavor essence, we should start by making an one.
We put the smoked mackerel bones and leek tops into a bowl. We inserted the bowl in our pressure cooker with an inch of water surrounding the bowl. We pressure steamed the mackerel and leeks so that they released their flavorful juices. Then we strained the mixture. We had an intense, rich, fatty, smokey, allium-centric fish concentrate. Our yield was about 225 grams (a cup) of smoked mackerel and leek essence. Then the ideas began to form: clear Caesar dressing, the flavoring for a salsa verde, the sauce to glaze potatoes. The essence both stood on its own and became a foundation to build upon.