“Do you remember when…?” is one of those questions that can evoke nostalgic memories of events gone by. Although they need not be that distant a memory to make them worth delighting in again. One such event for me and hopefully my guests, was that of the Royal Wedding. Not having taken much notice of what seemed to be gripping the rest of the country in the preceding weeks, I awoke to its ‘momentousness’ and found myself inviting friends for brunch in front of the telly, giving myself very little domestic notice. Between the invite three days before the wedding I had to travel to North Wales, arriving back home very late and literally a matter of hours before my guests. The supermarket shelves were bare, however racking my brain for culinary ideas as I bombed down the M5, I remembered my freezer contained some smoked fish, the fridge, lots of eggs and the cupboard, as always stocked with essentials like rice and spices. I was going to take a risk and offer my guests a right royal, British brunch, if ever there was one. Kedgeree was to be the highlight of my celebratory menu.
Kedgeree is traditional and British, and at it’s height in the 19th Century when it was a staple of the Raj breakfast table. I have looked through my (over three hundred) cookery books and no one recipe is the same. Many use a rice and lentil mix, add peas or sultana’s; cinnamon sticks; nuts or turmeric, probably for its luminous colour rather than its flavour.
I chose kedgeree as a main course at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant, The Yew Tree last year, which was served quite wet. It resembled a creamy risotto, bit like porridge, with soft poached quails eggs cushioned in the rice. It was fabulous and I have tried hard to recreate it, without success. ‘Wet kedgeree’ is a dish of its own according to The Guardian’s ‘word of mouth’ blog and fairly close to what I propose here in it’s consistency, with the adding of a flavourful creamy curry sauce.
There’s no need to wait for another Royal occasion to make this, quoting Siri Owen from The Rice Book, ‘…it’s good for invalids or those with hangovers”. This recipe will certainly wake the palate and soothe the stomach. If serving for lunch or supper it’s great with a simple tomato salad. We can buy fish now from Buttlings, fresh in on Thursdays, or order fresh trout from Ludwell Stores. It is a great dish as a standby, just keep some smoked fish in the freezer for those surprise guests or empty fridge moments, as it’s quick to make and very satisfying. It freezes well too without the hard-boiled eggs as they turn to rubber.
After eggs Benedict and my specially named King’s Kedgeree, our Royal Wedding brunch finished with Scotch pancakes hot from the AGA plate with berries and maple syrup and we toasted the happy couple with Buck’s Fizz. A day and a brunch, fit for future Kings and Queens and now part of my ‘Do you remember when….’ moments, never to forget. aif
King’s Kedgeree - for breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper
£7.50 when all ingredients purchased in Ludwell.
Serves 4 - adjust quantities to taste with more or less fish and or spices.
500g Smoked haddock or cod (if using smoked trout, ease up on the spices)
25 fl oz (generous pint) milk and water mix with a single bay leaf 1 tbsp sunflower/rapeseed oil
2 small onions, skinned and finely sliced (not chopped)
1 tsp medium strength curry powder
250 g long grain or basmati rice
3 hardboiled eggs or 4 fresh eggs for poaching
large handful of chopped parsley
Creamy Curry Sauce (mild) with a nod to Gary Rhodes
1 large onion; finely chopped with 2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tbsp Madras curry powder
300 ml chicken or vegetable stock
300 ml double cream
150 ml coconut milk (optional)
Squeeze of lime juice and seasoning
1. Remove the skin from the fish and feel the fish carefully with your fingertips, removing all bones. Cut into large chunks.
2. Put the fish into a saucepan with the milk, water and bay leaf, and heat gently until it just starts to simmer. Take the pan off the heat, cover and leave to cool.
3. When cool, strain the liquid into a jug and transfer the fish to a bowl.
4. Heat the oil and butter together in a wide based saucepan and add the finely sliced onions, cooking for several minutes until they are soft and transparent looking,
5. Stir in the curry powder and cook for a further two minutes.
6. Stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes more, keeping the mix moving, until the rice is coated with the curried oil and butter mix.
7. Pour in the strained fish liquid. (You will need a full pint if using 250g of rice - it’s always double the volume of liquid to rice if measuring in a cup) and stir to mix.
8. Cook the rice slowly and covered, until the liquid has been absorbed. (DO NOT STIR or it will go sticky) If using Basmati rice, once it has simmered for four-five minutes, take it off the heat and stand, covered for twenty minutes, and fluff up. Meanwhile make the creamy curry sauce.
9. Cook the onion and garlic in the butter without colouring for 5-6 minutes.
10. Add the curry powder and cook for a further 6-8 minutes stirring occasionally.
11. Add the stock and simmer fast, reducing the volume by half.
12. Add the cream and return to simmer, cooking for 10-15 minutes longer.
13. Add the coconut milk if using, and bring back to a simmer.
14. Add the lime-juice and season to taste. Sieve for a smooth sauce.
15. Fold the fish and the warm sauce into the rice, (careful not to break the chunks of fish up too much). Add the parsley and hard-boiled eggs if using and adjust to taste.
16. Top with fresh, soft poached eggs, one per serving, if preferred to boiled.
Truly scrumptious at any time of day - please join me by starting a kedgeree resurgence in the Donheads
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.