#105 Kippers

Charlotte and myself when to the bustling metropolis that is Stockport at the weekend to buy boots (Charlotte) and to take back a plane to B&Q (me). This is the exciting life we lead. Be jealous. One great thing about Stockport is its market. It’s very old and very good; the market hall has been restored and refurbished and it looks very nice. I wanted to go for one particular reason: sweets. There’s brilliant stall that sells all the sweets from your childhood: cough cops, pineapple cubes, midget gems, and pear drops. You name it; they got it. We bought enough to induce a diabetic coma. On the way back Charlotte pointed out the fishmongers, where we saw some lovely kippers. We’d not had kippers for breakfast for ages so we thought we’d get a couple.

There are three ways to cook your breakfast kippers according to Grigson:
1. Poach in shallow water for a couple of minutes, serve with knob of butter
2. Fry in butter, a couple of minutes each side
3. Grill a couple of minutes each side. Skin side first, then turn over and add a knob of butter.

I went for number three, as it’s my favourite way. Whichever way you do them, make sure there’s freshly ground pepper on them and brown bread and butter on the side.

FYI: kippers are the most recent of the cured fishes – the kipper cure was created for salmon, but was then later applied to herring, where it was obviously much nicer.

#105 Kippers – 8/10. It’s not very often I have a savoury breakfast, but kippers really are best thing, salty and rich they give you a boost you really need of a morning. I’m surprised to see how few people like them, bring them back, I say. They do repeat on you for the rest of the day, so don’t go on a romantic date that may later lead on to heavy petting. You have been warned.

Fifty Grigsons Young – Kipper Paste

I didn’t realise that the kipper paste was my 50th Grigson recipe; if I had been on the ball, I would have done a feast. Never mind – when it’s the hundredth I’ll do something special.

I chose to do cook with kippers because not enough people eat things like kippers these days, and I hoped maybe people may be inspired to cook with them now I have. I remember thinking how foul they smelt as a kid when my mum used to eat them, but then when I tasted one, I couldn’t believe how sweet and piquant they were with out being horribly fishy. Also, kippers are cheap – even good quality ones should only cost about a quid each. Jane only has one proper kipper recipe, and it is kipper paste, a real Seventies dinner-party staple. I’d never had it, but I like that kind on thing.

Here’s what I did:

I covered the kippers with boiling hot water straight from the kettle and let them poach in the residual heat for 10 minutes. Next the skin and bones were taken off. This is not as laborious as it sounds; the fish is made up of longitudinal muscles, so you can peel strips of, as it were, and take the bones out as you go (you don’t need to removed the very thin hair-like bones – you wouldn’t ever notice they were there). These were allowed to cool slightly and weighed so than an equal weight of soft butter could be measured – it seems that one kipper equals around 100 grams. These were then carefully beaten in the food processor along with pepper, a little salt, some cayenne pepper and ground mace. Then the juice of half a lemon and a couple of table spoons of whipped cream were quickly mixed in (taste at this point – you might want more spices: they do make all the difference). The mixture was spooned into ramekins and a layer of clarified butter was poured over, and the whole thing was set in the fridge. Serve with toasted brown bread.

FYI: the kipper is the most recent of the cured fishes – fish were not split before hot-smoking, but left whole. All this was first done by a chap called Woodger in Northumberland. However, I happen to know that the best kippers can be bought in Whitby. However, because of stupid EU regulations, they cannot be posted to you, so you’ll have to simply drive there!

#50 Kipper Paste: 8/10. This dish should totally have a come-back. It is sweet and light, yet rich and salty. Really nice proper food. Go uot and buy some kippers this instant

While the cat’s away…

…the mice gorge themselves on meat!

I awoke very late on Saturday morning with a stinking hangover. I was supposed to be at work by ten o’clock, and it was almost twelve. Oh dear. I was secretly happy that I didn’t have to go in though. A small snooze later and I felt fine, and since I was at Greg’s flat in Manchester Centre (I was far too drunk to bus it home the night before) I thought I would get something nice and meaty from the Arndale Market and get Joff round.

On arriving, I found that there’s only a cheap butchers there now selling massive trays of meat for £2 a pop. Not good. The fishmonger there is excellent, and so I had a look round. I bought a couple of nice Manx kippers (I don’t like buying fresh fish on a weekend as it’s usually been there since Monday). Wasn’t sure what to do about the meat, and I’d promised meat to Joff.

I arrived home and though I’d have a look in the butcher’s shop in Levenshulme expecting it to be similar to the one in the market, but how wrong I was! I briefly talked to the chap inside, and he said that they get most of their stuff in whole and butcher it properly on site. They were getting ready to shut up shop, but the beef laid out looked very rich and red, not like the strange translucent pink meat you see in the supermarkets. I bought some shin of beef whilst I was there.

Now I had the main ingredients for a two-course feast: (#50) Kipper paste and (#51) shin of beef stew.