Well I was hoping to do a really special 250th recipe, but due to my busy schedule I didn’t get round to it. Instead what I had to do was try and empty my freezer of as many things as possible before I left for Texas, which meant a lot of fish after my big order from The Fish Society (an excellent website, by the way). So it is quite bizarre that this little landmark recipe has to have the least English name! The ingredients are very English and despite the French name, the dish was created by an Englishman called Christopher Snow. The exciting thing about this recipe, is the inclusion of the smoked cod’s roe – quite a cheap ingredient, but tricky to find, and one I’ve never eaten before. It looked quite scary and alien-esque in its packet and I wasn’t sure about it, but it is part of the fun of this experiment. Plus none of the meat or fish has been bad thus far….
This is a very easy dish to prepare as there is hardly any cooking required at all. The recipe serves four, but it can be easily increased or decreased in ratios for any number:
Start off by boiling four large eggs; Griggers is very precise about this, so listen good. Place the eggs into already boiling water and leave for precisely six minutes (seven if they are extra large eggs). Remove and run under the cold water to cool them down. Meanwhile, cut four slices of wholemeal bread and cut them into circles, removing a smaller circle from the centre and butter them and then place them in the centre of a plate. Now prepare the roe: peel away the skin of a four ounce roe and beat the pink centre with four tablespoons of double cream until thick, this should only take thirty seconds and then season with black pepper. Peel the cool eggs and wrap a piece of smoked salmon around each one and place it in the little brown bread stand you have made. Lastly, spoon the roe sauce over the egg (this is quite tricky as it is quite thick, so I did a quenelle instead, pretty posh, eh?).
#250 Oeufs Mollets Christophe. “Occasionally when one goes out for a meal, some dish appears which is so delicious and simple that one is angry not have thought of it oneself” says the Grigson. Well I wouldn’t go that far, but it was pretty good. The eggs were cooked to perfection using her method – the yolks were still runny and creamy and complemented the smoked salmon very well (a classic combination, of course). The smoked cod’s roe was really delicious too, rich and heady with natural hot smoke, the only problem was that it was so very rich and it needed some lemon juice to cut through it, I think. That or just less of it. I think with a little alteration, this could be really excellent. 7/10.
If you have a nice little independent butcher or fishmonger it’s always worth having a quick nosey to see if they have anything different in. I did this at Out of the Blue
– probably the best fishmonger in the North-West, at least when it comes to getting hold of weird and wonderful ingredients like the freshwater eel from a few months ago
. Well, this time there was freshwater eel on the shelves in abundance, at least in its smoked form.
There are a few smokehouses that smoke eels in Britain, though the eels themselves are usually brought over from Holland and the surrounding countries due to the fact that are fewer of the beasties to found in British rivers.
This is not a recipe, but really a suggestion by Griggers as to the best way to appreciate smoked eel. As a starter, give each person a three inch section of eel fillet along with some good brown or rye bread and butter, a lemon wedge and perhaps some horseradish sauce. That’s it. Enjoy.
#234 Smoked Eel. A true delicacy; and the best way to treat a delicacy is to eat it in the simplest way possible. The flesh was sweet, succulent and firm, not the soft and slightly gelatinous consistency of smoked salmon which I can find rather off-putting. Don’t be squeamish and get it down yer. Fab stuff 8/10.
A bit of a cop out this one as it it’s not really a recipe, though it is listed as one in the book. It’s actually more a bit of advice on good eating. There’s many like this in the book. Here, Griggers discusses the dos and don’ts of buying Finnan haddock, which is smoked haddock. We call it Finny haddock in Yorkshire. Findon, or Finnan is a small coastal village near Aberdeen in Scotland. It is there where the proper stuff is made. Griggers warns us of buying those ‘golden fillets’ that are that weird shiny orange colour like cheap sweaty spray-on tan, which I suppose it is but with added smoke flavour. Splarf. My mum used to buy them and they are vastly inferior to the proper stuff. There have been a few recipes so far in the book that has used Finnan haddock, and I think that I have mentioned all this before. However, if you want the really good shit, it is Arbroath that you need to travel to. There, Arbroath smokies are made. As I was in the fishmongers buying some prawns (see a later entry for what I wanted those for) there some were, just lying there. So I bought one, as you have to be opportunistic in this game.
So the recipe? “Heat briefly under the grill or in the oven, and eaten with plenty of butter and bread, or used for kedgeree.” So a brief grilling it was for my little smokie.
#190 Finnan Haddock. If you ever see those little Arbroath smokies in the fishmongers you have to buy some. The flesh was so succulent and sweet due to its protection by the now leathery skin, and the smoke flavour was nothing like anything I’ve tasted before: it was as though it had only just been taken out of the smokehouse and slipped onto my plate. The smoke flavour was sweet and acrid, not unlike a good cigar. Excellent. 8/10. If I catch any of you buying a golden fillet, I will come over personally and poke you in the eye with it.
The thrifty cooking is going well – Charlotte and I having been very shrewd. However, when it comes to Sunday dinnertime, I did want a nice big hearty (and pricey) roast. Instead I went for kedgeree. I don’t recall ever having eaten it before, even though I knew exactly what is required to make it. I had high hopes for it: curry, eggs and Finnan (smoked) haddock. What can’t be good about that!? It used to be a breakfast dish, but these days it’s eaten for dinner or tea.
I have been researching the origins of kedgeree, and there seems to be two differing stories: the Scots reckon that it hails from there, and when the lovely British Empire decided to pop over to Asia and add India to its collection, the Scots brought it over too and the curry element was added. The alternative story is that the dish started in India, but then when colonialists came over, they added the smoked fish. I’m going with the latter story – the best evidence is the etymology of the word: kedgeri is the name of a similar Indian dish containing rice, lentils and eggs.
To make kedgeree, start off by poaching a pound of Finnan haddock in barely simmering water for ten minutes. You can use any good-flavoured cured fish, of course, for example kippers, smoked salmon or bloaters. Meanwhile chop a large onion and fry it in olive oil until it browns. Add a teaspoon of curry paste (I used Madras) and fry for a minute. Remove the fish from the water, remove its skin and flake the flesh, removing any bones. To the pan, stir in six ounces of long grain rice and when translucent add a pint of the poaching water. Cover the pan and let it simmer gently until all the water has been absorbed. Gently stir in the flaked fish along with a large knob of butter. Plate out the kedgeree and decorate with quartered hard-boiled eggs, prawns and chopped parsley. Serve with a lemon wedge and mango chutney.
#184 Kedgeree. This did not disappoint – the food was substantial and well-flavoured, but light. The combination of curry and eggs, and of smoked fish and eggs is great. Plus the extra addition of the lemon, prawns and mango chutney; not something I would normally associate with this dish really makes it special. This is a high-scorer – the only gripe (and it is a minor one) is the use of long grain rice, I am a Basmati man myself; it has a nutty flavour and doesn’t go as stodgy. 8/10.
This one is just a quickie: With the bit of smoked trout Butters and me had left over from our trip to the Cheshire Smokehouse, rather than just scoff it au naturelle, I made this smoked fish trout. The recipe is exactly the same as the cheese soufflé I did a wee while ago, the only difference is that the cheese is omitted from the mixture and flakes of up to 8 ounces of any smoked fish you like are folded in after the egg whites are incorporated. The soufflé is topped with a tablespoon each of Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs for a good crunch.
#168 Smoked Fish Soufflé – I gave the cheese soufflé high marks and this was good – if not, better – so I reckon it’s a 9/10. This soufflé recipe is really good – the egg and smoked fish combination in this case really was sublime; the perfect way to use up any off-cuts or leftovers. Brilliant stuff.
P.S. No photo! My stupid camera takes pictures and then they aren’t there when I come to view them.
To accompany the salt beef, I made this classic accompaniment, though it goes very well with smoked fish such as trout.
It’s very easy to make: lightly whip ¼ pint of double cream and stir in 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish, then season with salt, pepper and the juice of up to half a lemon. It’s important to just lightly whip the cream as the acids in the lemon make it much thicker. Griggers also make the point that the outside of the horseradish root is alot hotter than the centre, so if you like it milder, grate across the root, rather than down the side.
FYI: horseradish can be found growing wild in most places in Europe and has been cultivated by the Egyptians and Romans and, according to Greek Myth, Apollo was told by the Delphic Oracle that it was worth it’s weight in gold, though why I don’t know.
Again, no pic, sorry – my camera’s doing some funny things
#162 Horseradish Sauce – 6.5/10. This very pleasant and creamy, though lacked the punch I expected, even though I was pretty generous with the horseradish. It was ok, but I think I prefer a jar of proprietary horseradish sauce! Is this bad of me!?