Since I decided to host the British Food Fortnight Challenge a few weeks ago, I've been trying hard to decide what I should cook for the challenge. At first, I thought I'd go for a traditional British pud - treacle tart, perhaps? As the days passed, I decided that I'd focus on some of the best produce our nation produces and thought I'd plunk for something meat-based. Beef Wellington is a favourite, but is hardly credit crunch-friendly (...and as I had no plans to entertain this week, I thought it a little decadent to make for one).
I then decided that I'd like to challenge myself a little and attempt something I haven't made before. I have a bit of an issue with rice. I virtually never cook it. I'm hopeless when it comes to cooking the stuff. Actually, the truth be told, I'm not really hopeless at it. I just have a fear of cooking rice. I'm convinced I'll get it wrong. Either it'll be one big sticky, lumpy mess or it'll stick to the pan and have to be chiseled off, or it'll be more al dente than an uncooked potato.
However, a dish that I've loved since childhood is
There are many variations of kedgeree. The basics are fish (traditionally smoked haddock), rice, eggs and butter. The quality of these are all key to the success of this dish. I made mine with smoked haddock but you may prefer to plunk for a more sustainable species. I think that smoked mackerel would work quite well. Salmon is a good choice too, though quite different.
This recipe worked out just as I hoped. It is a combination of around 6 different recipes as I couldn't find one that sounded just right. Cooking the rice in the poaching liquid is key - adds so much flavour. I've kept my version fairly basic, just enriching it with a touch of cream. But peas, spinach or tomatoes would be valid (if nontraditional) additions.
2 fillets Scottish smoked haddock (traditionally smoked and undyed*)
1 mug long-grained rice
2 free-range organic eggs
a good few knobs of butter
1tsp medium curry powder
1/2 an onion (or 1 very small one), chopped
a very generous handful of parsley
a small handful coriander (optional)
1 tbsp double cream (optional)
1. Place the haddock in a pan and just cover with water. Add a bay leaf and bring to simmer. Poach for around 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and easily flakeable. Remove with slotted spoon and place in a dish, covered with foil in a very low oven to keep warm. Do not throw away the poaching liquid. Pour it into a measuring jug.
2. In another pan, melt a knob of butter and gently sweat the chopped onion. Meanwhile, give the rice a good rinse and add to the buttery onion. Stir to coat the rice and add the curry powder and mix gently. Pour poaching liquid into same mug that you used to measure the rice - you need two mugfuls in total (i.e. double the volume of rice). If you don't have enough, top up with water. Pour over rice, stir once and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer very gently for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.
3. Meanwhile, hard-boil the eggs in a pan of simmering water.
4. Whilst you are waiting for this to do, utilise your brand-new mezzaluna to chop copious amounts of parsley. Try not to get too excited or carried away event though mezzaluna chopping is so satisfying...
5. Peel the eggs and chop into quarters (or smaller, if you prefer). Flake the fish into the rice and stir to combine. Add the herbs, another decent knob of butter, the cream (if using) and the eggs. Heat through gently and stir to combine all the flavours. Squeeze over the juice from half a lemon (or to taste). Add pepper and salt but go easily on the salt as the fish may be quite salty (taste to be sure).
6. Serve, garnished with more parsley and a little cayenne pepper.
*Traditionally-smoked haddock should have a natural yellowy colour - if it is very white, it has not seen enough smoke. If it is bright yellow, it has been dyed to make up for the lack of natural colouring that should arise from proper smoking.
N.B. The herbs came from my garden. The haddock from Scotland. The eggs from Monmouthshire, butter and cream are British. The rice, spices and lemon are sadly not!