Hasle Smokehouse is situated at the south end of the harbour area in Hasle, all the way out by the sea. It’s easy to find: just look for the numerous characteristic smokehouse chimneys, because Hasle Smokehouse is right next to the Hasle Smokehouse Museum.
Hasle Smokehouse distinguishes itself from Bornholm’s other smokehouses by still smoking the fish using age-old methods – in open kilns, where the master smoker sits by the hearth, squelching the slowly smouldering alderwood with a wet cloth attached to a rod.
To learn more about how fishing and smoking were done in the olden days, you are welcome to visit – free of charge – the old red building next door which houses the Smokehouse Museum. The museum has an interesting exhibition that will whet your appetite for smoked herring, which is an ideal luncheon dish. You can eat the fish in the smokehouse’s restaurant or take it with you.
The smoked herring are ready around 10.30 am. The master smoker packs up his gear, and the spectators look forward to sinking their teeth into the freshly smoked Bornholm herring, either at the smokehouse with a cool glass of local beer while the children play on the lawn, or to take home for lunch.
All the smoked fish products are smoked over alderwood, just as they should be on Bornholm. This is how it has always been done, because it yields the tastiest results. Hasle Smokehouse sells other seafood products as well as herring. Smoked mackerel, salmon, prawns and fish cakes are also on the menu.
If there are more than six people in your group, you can contact Hasle Smokehouse in advance to book an interesting guided tour, where you will get to see all the details of the old and new buildings and hear about what it was like to be a fisherman in Hasle 100 years ago. There are stories about the golden age of herring, when it was possible to literally shovel herring right from the pier in Hasle, up to the devastating crisis in the Bornholm fishery industry in the 1980s when many fishermen went bankrupt. The guided tour ends properly, of course, with herring, a glass of cold beer and perhaps a shot of schnapps.
The smoking of herring is a slow-moving process. First, the herring are salted in brine for about a quarter of an hour, before the gills are removed and the head of one herring is inserted into the head of the next so they can be suspended from a curing rod. (Some smokehouses cut corners by poking the curing rod through the eyes of the herring.) Next, the herring are briefly dried in the oven. This new procedure was required after food-inspection authorities banned the drying of herring in the sun, as was customary in the past. Now we come to the most important part: the smoking process. The herring are smoked over slowly smouldering alderwood for four and half hours. Controlling this process requires concentration. If the herring get overheated, they break off at the head and fall into the fire. If they do not get enough heat, lunch will have to be postponed – which is almost the worst thing that could happen, right? Fortunately they know what they are doing at Hasle Smokehouse!