A couple of weeks ago, I talked a little about a classic fusion food: laksa. Today, I am going to explore another example of fusion cuisine: kedgeree. This lightly spiced rice and fish dish was brought back from India by British colonists around the turn of the 19th century, and quickly became a popular breakfast food for the Victorians. Although it contains a very basic set of ingredients – things that anyone who cooks regularly will have lying around – this dish packs a punch both visually and with its flavour.
The classic fish used in kedgeree nowadays is smoked haddock but originally any fish would have been used. The hard-boiled eggs which we are accustomed to eating with kedgeree were originally beaten into the dish while it was cooking to give a gooey, creamy texture but, as usual, the more visually aesthetic option is the one that remains today as a quartered egg on top of the dish looks far more appealing than a bowl of yellow goo. Interestingly, the most significant variations in kedgeree are to do with the spices. While we normally use a selection of ground spices to flavour the dish, a hundred years ago, people were making the dish with only salt and pepper although sometimes they would push the boat out and use cayenne pepper.
The spices in kedgeree made it very popular when it was introduced as they are all very flavourful without being hot. Most recipes involve making your own curry powder with cumin, coriander and turmeric however mild spice from the shop can be substituted in. The main difference is that premade ‘curry’ powder often has fenugreek included, as well as other spices which can vary brand to brand. You will also notice that I use salmon instead of smoked haddock. This is a completely personal choice as I prefer salmon (I’m not too big on cooked, smoked fish) but trout also works well and to be honest, you can substitute whatever fish you like. It’s such a quick and easy recipe that you could even buy whatever fish is reduced at the end of the day and use that.
Time: 30 minutes
Cost per portion: about £1.70
2 fillets of salmon or trout
One large onion
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp fish sauce
Juice and zest of two limes
3 hard-boiled eggs (optional)
Place the fish into a large frying pan along with the lime leaves and 250ml of the water. Cover the pan.
Turn on the heat and reduce to a simmer once the water is boiling.
Poach the fish for no more than ten minutes and then turn off the heat. The residual heat in the water will continue to cook the fish to a perfect consistency.
While the fish is cooking, finely dice the onion and tip it into a pan with the oil. Sauté until the onion is translucent and has begun to soften.
By this point, the fish should have finished cooking. Remove it from the water and strain the liquid into a jug. This will be used later to cook the rice.
Add the spices to the onion and cook for another minute.
Stir through the raw rice and then add the fish water along with another 150ml.
Cover and cook for ten minutes.
If the rice absorbs all the water, add some of the water that has been reserved from before.
Continue to cook until the rice is soft and fluffy.
While the rice is cooking, remove the skin from the fish and use a fork to break it up into big flakes.
When the rice is soft, gently stir through the flaked fish, lime juice, fish sauce and fresh coriander.
Shell the eggs and cut them into halves or quarters and place some egg on each plate of food.
Serve piping hot with a wedge of lime for those who like their food a little more citrussy.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are a fan of salmon, check out my recipe for crispy skin, pan seared salmon with lemon cous-cous or eve my recipe for sticky Asian salmon with spicy pan roasted broccoli. If on the other hand you want to cook something a little bit more on the sweet side, why not treat yourself to a delicious red velvet cake – you can even jazz it up to look like a brain for Halloween in a fortnight.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with another Halloween themed recipe to get you ready for your party.