Kedgeree

Kedgeree is a dish with a remarkably wide-ranging heritage. The concept and the word started out in India, where a dish called kichri combined rice with lentils and spices. The dish followed Arab trade routes early on, and is now an almost iconic dish in Egypt, where it’s called koshry. (If you’re interested, I posted a recipe for Egyptian koshry back in 2008.) There are various stories about when and where fish might have been added, but it was the British who added smoked fish and dropped the lentils. This is what became known as kedgeree.

Kedgeree is most commonly made with smoked haddock, also known as finnan haddie or finnan haddock (from the town in Scotland, Findon, most famous for preparing smoked haddock). However, I’ve seen versions that suggest substituting other smoked white fish. Smoked haddock is not always widely available in the U.S. (except perhaps in New England, where it became as important as it was in Scotland), so you may choose to experiment with substitutions. Be sure to pick something that has a fairly thick fillet and that is pretty heavily smoked.

The first time I had this dish, I was at the White Horse Pub, in Shere, England, though I was enjoying it more as a brunch than breakfast dish. (And I loved the charming town.)

There is nothing subtle about this dish. The flavors are all really big: smoked fish, onion, curry powder. The recipe calls for hot curry powder, but you can us mild if you prefer–or, if all you have is mild, you can boost the heat by adding red pepper flakes or a chopped fresh chile when you stir in the curry powder.

Kedgeree
1 cup long grain rice
About 1 lb. smoked haddock fillets (thick)
5 Tbs. butter
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 tsp. hot curry powder
3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
3 heaping Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbs. lemon juice.
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the haddock fillets in a 10-inch frying pan and cover with 2-1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 8–10 minutes, or until haddock flakes easily. Transfer fish to a plate. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid. (If you have less than 2 cups remaining, top up with water or broth.)

Using the same frying pan, melt 3 Tbs. of butter and add onion. Stir and cook gently for about 5 minutes, just to soften, not brown the onions. Then, stir in the curry powder, and cook for about 1/2 a minute. Next, stir in the rice, coating grains with butter and curry powder. Then add the 2 cups of reserved liquid from cooking the fish. Stir to combine, return to the boil, then cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice has absorbed all the liquid and grains are tender.

While the rice cooks, remove the skin from the haddock and flake the fish into bite-sized pieces. When rice is finished, remove from the heat, and stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter, the flaked fish, hard-cooked eggs, parsley, and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. (This is unlikely to need salt, as the smoked fish is salty, but if it does, add it now, along with the black pepper.) Return to the heat for a minute or two, to warm it up to serving temperature. Enjoy. Serves 4.

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1 Comment

Filed under culinary history, Culture, Food, History, Language, Travel

One response to “Kedgeree

  1. I have learned that the reason I had so much trouble finding smoked haddock for this recipe is that haddock is generally hard to come by these days. Fortunately, there are knowledgeable people who share ideas about alternatives. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage related, in one of his cooking videos, that smoked pollock is very similar to smoked haddock and makes a much more readily available alternative. Good to know–as I don’t want to have to avoid making this dish just because the fish is hard to find. So if you want to make this, see if smoked pollock isn’t easier to find.

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