Kedgeree is one of those great ancient Eastern culinary dishes, which has evolved and migrated over the centuries to become a delicious Western breakfast or supper dish. There are many legends attached to it, one being that consuming fish in the morning was the most practical way to enjoy it in a hot climate. At a later date the dish incorporated smoked fish and once it reached England became a supper favourite. Another story holds that the British in India used the dish as a hangover cure after a night on the chhota pegs. For us it is eminently suitable because we follow the old adage of 'breakfast like a king..'
When I was a child one of my Great Uncle's party tricks was to force us all to repeat tongue twisters, his favourite being: "a haddock a haddock a black spotted haddock, a black spot on the back of a black spotted haddock." Although this was nowhere near as interesting as his piano playing and vast hoard of film and TV annuals, it was only until writing this piece that I finally found the significance of the black spot. It is perhaps ironic that this mark is supposed to be that of the thumb print of Saint Peter, where he grasped the great great etc., grandpapa of the present fish to extract a gold coin from its mouth. The money was to pay his back taxes, whereas today you would need coin a plenty to obtain quality ethically fished or organically raised haddock. Thus kedgeree is a great dish for making fish go a long long way without any loss of flavour. I actually bought one small piece of organically raised smoked haddock weighing 158g (5½ oz) and made 3 meals for the two of us out of it.
My ingredients include home-grown turmeric, which having been cosseted from December to April in our kitchen for two years, has this year, finally over-wintered in our unheated glass greenhouse. I will include two films at the end of this piece on growing and harvesting organic turmeric in a cold climate.
Basmati or Thai rice (see below)
A small piece of fish, preferably smoked haddock
Hard boiled eggs - roughly chopped (I have plenty so heavy on the eggs, light on the fish!)
Coconut oil and/or raw butter
Paprika for sprinkling. Black Pepper
Rice and the Steam Dragon
As for the rice, I cook it in a very ad hoc manner taught to me by a friend who was maniacal about the right way to cook it. Very simply I wash the rice several times in cold water, then cover it with two fingers depth of water. Put it on a high heat, reducing this when it starts to boil too furiously and never open the pan lid, except just to quickly check now and again for when the water has been absorbed - if you open the lid too wide you let out the Steam Dragon. It seems like many dishes, rice is better left alone. Once the water has been absorbed and the rice is very slightly al dente remove the pan lid to allow the remaining water to quickly evaporate, leaving the rice 'dry' and fluffy. If you still have water visible above the rice but the grains have already reached this stage, then pour off the excess water first. If you overcook rice it goes sticky, then it is called 'friendly rice', which I think shows just how forgiving cookery can be!
Variations on a theme
Kedgeree can either be served directly from the pan or you can butter a mould and place in a medium oven for a few minutes. This will allow the flavour to develop and also give you an aesthetically pleasing dish if you are serving at a party or just feeling in that sort of mood. For the version above I also included more vegetable in the form of zucchini/courgette and sweet potato (leaves), for as with all my recipes, experimentation is key. Furthermore the above dish also contained smoked salmon and Atlantic pollock.
This is a great dish for those not wanting to make washing up, as I use the same pan to cook vegetables and fish so as to keep in as much flavour as possible, well that's my excuse!
Peel or rather scrape the turmeric root and chop or grate.
Add to the chopped red onion and cook gently with coconut oil or raw butter until the vegetables begin to soften.
Set the vegetables aside in a buttered oven-proof dish and using the same pan add the fish and add the raw milk. I add just enough to come part way up the sides of the fish if I'm using smoked haddock and usually add a little more if using something like salmon. I usually baste the haddock a couple of times with the milk. I cook it just until it starts to 'flake' when touched with a fork around 5 minutes. Fish will continue to cook once removed from the heat, so be careful not to over-cook.
The salmon above left was cooked in a pan where I had grated rather than chopped the turmeric root. You can see the colour infuses more into the milk. However, we do like the taste of crunchy turmeric and can well see why, where it is plentiful, it is eaten as a vegetable rather than considered as a spice.
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Hope to see you here again for another recipe from an old farmhouse in Normandie,
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© 2015 Sue Cross