Food News

Why Are Chefs So Excited About...Water?

October 11, 2017

A British couple has figured out how to smoke water. David and Alison Lea-Wilson, of North Wales, have developed a process that runs filtered tap water through oak chips and oak dust. What emerges is an amber-hued liquid that begets a sharp smoky taste.

David and Alison developed the product, dubbed Halen Mon Oak Smoked Water, in 2013 after a request from Heston Blumenthal, chef and owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck.

The couple developed the Anglesey Sea Salt Co. almost 20 years ago, producing renowned sea salt used by cooks like Martha Stewart and Dan Barber. Additionally, their smoked water has become increasingly popular over the past few years, with bottles on shelves in British department store Harvey Nichols and in chefs' kitchens across London. At The Fat Duck, a few dishes on the extensive (and expensive) tasting menu feature smoked water like braised pork belly with a smoked coconut gel.

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Smoked water works nicely in meat marinades and salad dressings. And some bake it into bread or whisk it into brines. The product is yet to be available stateside—it only just made its way across the pond at the New York Fancy Food Show. The couple hopes their smoked water will soon join their sea salt on the shelves of American specialty stores.

Have we smoked a step too far? Or does this sound like something you'd try? Tell us what you think in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Stephen F. October 13, 2017
I've been smoking my own water for years now. We use it in soups marinades and stews as well as make ice cubes with it. Adding smoked ice cubes to bourbon or other adult drinks really changes the flavour and brings out the natural barrel aged flavour of such things as bourbon and whiskeys.
It's so simple to make that I'm surprised it's taken this long for others to not tap into smoked water.
Rebecca October 11, 2017
How is this not Liquid Smoke?
Valhalla October 11, 2017
I actually made a recipe calling for this last night! It is Anna Jones's Smoky mushroom and roast kale lasagne ( I had no intention of buying smoked water, but I love the idea of adding a smoky element. I used lapsang souchong tea, but it did not register in the finished dish.