Sunday, 15 January 2012


Ever since I learned how to cook it, I've been making kedgeree backwards and it was years before I discovered I'd been doing it wrong. I don't mean that I was following the recipe backward, dear me, no - that would be stupid, if not impossible. What I mean is, I always thought this was a dish for dinner/supper/tea - whatever you call it - so it was a bit of a shock to learn the truth. Kedgeree is a breakfast dish and it's curried.

In my defence, I learned this recipe from my mother - perhaps she couldn't get hold of curry powder when I was a child. Or perhaps she just didn't know it's meant to be for breakfast, although I find that hard to believe as she was an excellent cook. Still, she had the basic ingredients right - smoked fish, rice, onions and egg. I still make it as an evening meal and I still don't add the spices - for me, the smoked haddock is the draw and I don't see the point in burying its flavour. 

What you need:
1 smoked haddock fillet
1 egg
Half a mug of basmati rice
1 onion

What to do:
Put the rice on to cook, using your preferred method. Meanwhile, boil the egg until it's firm and poach the haddock in a centimetre of water in a lidded sauteuse until it's just cooked (as soon as the water reaches the boil, turn off the heat and let the fish continue to cook in the hot water). 

Heat a generous knob of butter Roughly chop the onion and sauté it gently until it is soft and translucent. Don't let it colour. Meanwhile, flake the smoked haddock and shell the egg then chop it roughly.

When the onion is ready, fold in the rice, fish and egg. Stir through to reheat all the ingredients and serve.

Cook's tips:
I boil rice for 12 minutes, as this is how I was taught - bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the rice then keep it on a rolling boil until it's cooked. Most people I know say they don't get good results this way - it helps to rinse the rice with a kettleful of boiling water after draining into a sieve. This removes the excess starch and keeps the grains separate and fluffy. I never have any luck with the method my friends use, which is to put the rice into a pan, cover with a measured amount of water, turn on the heat and cover with a very tight-fitting lid until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is cooked through. American long grain rice is a good substitute if you don't have basmati to hand. Cooking times are roughly the same.

This dish takes a lot of pans - to save on washing up, I often lower my egg into the boiling rice halfway through, so the two are ready at the same time. 

There's an ongoing debate about dyed versus undyed smoked haddock and other fish. The London Fishmonger explains the difference in his blog. Me, I want yellow fish as it provides an essential colour contrast - if that means buying dyed if I can't find naturally yellow smoked haddock then I will, The alternative is the inferior smoked version that is virtually white in colour.

Other kinds of smoked fish work well with this dish.

If you want to have a go at producing Raj-style curried kedgeree, Good Food has an excellent selection of recipes.