Posts Tagged ‘Fish’

Recipe: Swallow Fish Kipper Kedgeree From Ramus Seafood

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Back in 2011, I blogged about some of my favourite kippers from Northumberland.  After tasting kippers from Craster and Seahouses, I found those from Swallow Fish in Seahouses my favourite.

So I was really happy to have a go at making the Swallow Fish Kipper Kedgeree from Ramus Seafood’s new fish boxes. Sophie had, also, been wanting kedgeree for some time, so it was a good excuse to try the Ramus recipe; Sophie also wants potatoes Dauphinoise so that is next on the blog list.

I have to admit bias because Steenbergs provides the hot curry powder for the box, so I am not impartial and Swallow Fish’s kippers are my favourite of all time.   Nevertheless, this really is good.

Kipper Kedgeree

Kedgeree using Swallow Kippers and Ramus Fish box

Ingredients

2 smoked kippers
450 ml boiling water
25 g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Steenbergs hot curry powder
225 g basmati rice
110 ml double cream
Lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, roughly chopped
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Place the kippers into a deep baking dish and pour over the boiling water.  Leave in the water for five minutes, then remove and set aside, reserving the soaking liquid.  Carefully remove the meat from the fish, taking care to remove all the bones.  Place the kipper meat into a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a deep frying pan with a lid until hot then add the butter.  Once the butter has melted, add the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, until just softened but not coloured.

Add the Steenbergs hot curry powder and cook for a further minute, then add the rice and stir to coat well in the butter and onions.

Add the reserved kipper soaking liquid and heat to a gentle simmer, then cover with the lid and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Stir in the double cream and lemon juice.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the kipper meat, eggs and parsley.  Stir gently to combine without breaking up the kipper meat too much.

To serve, spoon into warmed bowls.

Two Fish Shops – Craster And Seahouses (19 & 20 July 2011)

Saturday, August 6th, 2011
Robson Home Of The Craster Kipper

Robson Home Of The Craster Kipper

On the way back from Alnwick, we went to Craster and to L. Robson & Sons Ltd, who have been smoking herrings for kippers there for over 130 years.  It is an unprepossessing little sea village, with a small harbour that feels lost and drab.  There is only a little bit of sand and a few sad looking boats.  It is a good base for a walk along the coast towards the grand ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle and buying some fish, but not worth a visit on its own.  Robsons is a functional shop, the restaurant was closed and the service cursory, but the fish has a good reputation far and wide, and you can buy online at www.kipper.co.uk or by mail order (01665 576 223).  Kippers are £5.75/kg.

In contrast, Seahouses has managed to make the transition from a busy fishing harbour in the era of herring through to a tourist place much more smoothly.  It is a larger harbour, plus has the benefit of the Farne Islands and Holy Island closer to, enabling the ecotourists to come for birds, seals and the occasional dolphin, Minke whale and orcas.  Still, it is a much quieter harbour than I can remember from when young.  Then, all the edges of the harbour would be full of moored fishing boats, where now you have a handful of fishing boats and many more pleasure boats taking trips to the islands.

I remember coming down to the harbour to choose fish, crabs and lobster freshly landed and direct from the boats, where now signs say “No Landing Of Shellfish”.  The only hint at the former times are lobster pots and a fish van from Eyemouth with its incongruous saltire on its side.  The piers and harbour had more of a hubbub then and lots of busyness, but progress moves us ever forwards to a better place, supposedly.  I remember sitting at the end of the pier with legs dangling over the edge, surrounded by other kids, fishing with rod or just line; the joy of catching a pollock or when fishing from the shore a flattie, then the sweet and sour taste of food legitimately hunted and brought home to table.  In Seahouses, MacKays has changed from a shop with wet fish counter into a palace for plastic seaside geegaws and kiss-me-quick hats, as well as body boards and wet suits, called the Farne Island Gift Shop (be careful as it is cash only).

Swallow Fish In Seahouses , Northumberland

Swallow Fish In Seahouses , Northumberland

In Seahouses, you must rootle out Swallow Fish that is hidden above the harbour in South Street – it is hard to find down a potholed, little road.  Here they still smoke on site from fish that is landed in the harbour (probably only crab and lobster); you can sometimes see their van waiting patiently on the quayside.  My uncle used to get his salmon smoked here.  The Wilkin family have been smoking fish here since 1843 and claim to have invented the kipper, making this the oldest smokehouse in Northumberland.  The shop is a lovely warm and small space, unchanged from my memories as if you step from 2011 into someone’s warm front parlour in the 1960s or 1910s.  The service was warm and helpful in that quiet, reserved Northumbrian manner.  I bought dressed crab and kippers, normal and deboned.  Don’t buy the deboned as the shape is a fillet and feels wrong for a kipper, plus only the backbone has been removed and all the smaller bones are still there.  You can buy other fish products, plus live crab, crab claws, crab meat and lobster.  Swallow Fish is available in Fenwick Food Hall in Newcastle or by mail order or over the phone (01665 721 052) or www.swallowfish.co.uk.  Dearer than Craster at £8.25/kg, but worth it.  And what I love about their website is the section where you can meet their fishermen, which includes 2 of the Glad Tidings fleet as used for trips to the Farnes.

Swallow Fish Kippers - filleted or normal

Swallow Fish Kippers - filleted and normal

Our tasting notes from 12 of us:

  • Swallow Fish: lightly smoked taste with succulent meaty flesh and nice level of oil.  Really good example of kipper that have no artificial colours or smoke flavour.
  • Robson & Son Craster Kippers: more smoky and saltier in flavour than the Swallow Fish kippers.  Good taste and delicious meat with no artificial colours or smoke flavours.

Overall, Swallow Fish was our preferred kipper, but Craster Kippers are way ahead of other high street kippers, so go for either.  Some time back I reviewed Loch Fyne and Marrbury Smokehouse Kippers, which are good, but still not as good as Swallow Fish or Robson of Craster Kippers.

Recipe For Wild Salmon With Pink Peppercorn Sauce

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This recipe began as one of those serendipitous events when on holiday this July in Scotland.  We had one of those small kitchens that has no equipment and a very temperamental cooker, plus we had brought almost no ingredients with us.  Then around and about, you could find a few basic ingredients to work with but not much, so I was standing there with some wild caught salmon fillets from the Galloway Smokehouse and not much inspiration, with the family screaming the cottage down for some grub. 

Sophie came in for a glass of rosé wine and then I knew what to do and off I went – I put the fillets into a large vegetable pot, sliced some lemons and put these between the fillets, then sprinkled some salt and pepper over the fillets, poured in about an inch of wine and gently poached the salmon with the lid on the pot; delicious and everyone finished their plates, so job done.

Back in Yorkshire and with more ingredients to work with, I thought that perhaps you could work that simple recipe up a bit more and finish it off with a sauce and felt that a rosé wine and pink peppercorn sauce would do the trick.  I made it yesterday after getting some salmon from Carricks mobile fish truck at Ripon Market and it worked a treat.  I reckon you could also serve cold cooked salmon with a pink peppercorn hollandaise sauce.

Carrick's Mobile Fish Shop At Ripon Market

Carrick's Mobile Fish Shop At Ripon Market

For the poaching stock:

250ml / 8 fl oz rosé wine
125ml / 4fl oz water
4 slices of lemon
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1tsp white peppercorns (whole)
1 blade mace
½ vanilla pod, sliced down centre (optional)

For the wild salmon:

1tbsp sunflower oil
25g / 1oz finely chopped shallots
4 salmon fillets (about 200g / 7oz each)
¼ tsp Sea salt
¼ tsp Coarsely milled black pepper
100ml / 4 fl oz double cream
1tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

1.  Put all the ingredients for the poaching stock in a pot and bring to the boil with the lid on the pot.  When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes with the lid on, so letting all the flavours infuse into the stock.  You could skip this bit if you are pushed for time and go straight to the poaching of the salmon; in this case, I would replace the water-carrot-spice part with extra wine, i.e. just use 300ml / 10 fl oz rosé wine and the lemon slices and go straight to the next stage.

Ingredients For Poaching Stock

Ingredients For Poaching Stock

Finished Rose Salmon Poaching Stock

Finished Rose Salmon Poaching Stock

2.  Pre-heat the oven to 100oC/ 210oF and put a plate or serving dish in the oven to warm up for later.  Lightly oil a heavy bottomed, metal casserole dish and then sprinkle the chopped shallots over the base of the pan.  Place the salmon fillets on top of this and then season with some sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.  Gently pour in the poaching stock (or rosé wine plus lemon slices) half way up the fillets, reserving any of the excess stock for later.  Put the lid onto the casserole dish and gently poach in the stock for 8 – 10 minutes, depending on the size of the salmon, but try not to overcook.  Lift out the poached salmon and place on a warm plate, cover in foil and keep warm in the pre-heated oven.

Salmon Fillets On Shallot Base

Salmon Fillets On Shallot Base

3.  Pour the juices into a clean pan through a sieve to remove the bits and add any of the excess stock reserved earlier.  Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid to about 150ml /¼ pint.  Add the cream and simmer until the sauce has a thin feel to it, but would still coat a coat for a bit.  Add the crushed pink peppercorns.  Check and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, but do not add black pepper under any circumstances as it will ruin the effect.

Crushing Pink Peppercorns In Pestle And Mortar

Crushing Pink Peppercorns In Pestle And Mortar

4.  Serve on warmed plates.  Firstly arrange the salmon fillets onto the plates, then pour over the sauce.  Serve with new potatoes, fresh green vegetables or salad – perhaps a watercress salad.

Organic Salmon In Pink Pepper Sauce

Organic Salmon In Pink Pepper Sauce

Of Fish In Dumfries And Galloway

Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Cairnsmore Of Fleet

Cairnsmore Of Fleet

(17/7/2010) We are on our annual family holiday, which as for the last three years has been in Dumfries & Galloway near Gatehouse of Fleet; no overseas travel or glamorous trips for us – in fact, the Steenberg family has been holidaying around here for many, many years with my childhood spent around Gatehouse of Fleet and at Rockcliffe while my father would stay around Castramon Wood (see note i below) around the second world war.  It is a part of the world that time, and the scourges of modernity, have passed by with its untouched and beautiful valleys and hills, full of ancient woods and gushing, roiling streams with brown, peaty water.  It is part of the world that has hardly changed since it was immortalised in John Buchan’s “The Thirty-Nine Steps”.

There are red squirrels feeding off the bird feeders outside the kitchen window, as well as a family of six baby jays – I do not think I have ever seen so many jays in one place ever before as they are usually the bossy, but pretty, crow that spoils the feeding party around a bird table.  Oh and there are loads of sheep; black faced sheep in the hills and others on the salt marshes near Creetown, with magnificent, one-and-a-half foot long twisted horns on the tups.  But it is quiet and there is no light pollution and still very few people; it’s a bit like North Northumberland, a place where people drive through on the way somewhere else, so leaving it unspoiled.  Real, ancient Britain.  Here, people drive on to Stranraer and to Northern Ireland or the Isle Of Man or on to the Highlands and Islands, while in Northumberland it’s a journey through to Edinburgh.

There is, also, a lot of sea.  And so fish.  In Kirkcudbright Harbour, it is good to see a proper working fleet of fishing boats, as well as the Solway firth still full of traditional fixed fishing nets along the shoreline and a few fisherman still fishing with coble and nets.  Both of the latter are types of fishing stretching back to the Vikings and beyond.  On 14th July, even the Queen and Prince Philip came to see the fishermen in Kirkcudbright which is famed for its scallops, visiting on a rainy thundery afternoon between visiting Dumfries and onwards to Edinburgh (for the annual dinner of the Order of The Thistle and to award the Duke Of Edinburgh medals last week).

Fishing Boat In Kirkcudbright Harbour

Fishing Boat In Kirkcudbright Harbour

Traditional Fishing Nets In Solway Firth

Traditional Fishing Nets In Solway Firth

The Queen Visiting Kirkcudbright in 2010

The Queen Visiting Kirkcudbright Harbour Square

In the harbour square at Kirkcudbright, there is a fishmonger and grocery shop, attached to a traditional fish and chip shop called Polarbites.  The fishmonger side is good for vegetables (there are not actually that many decent places for veg around here), as well as selling great scallops, prawns, salmon and Loch Fyne kippers amongst other things.  On one day, we bought Loch Fyne kippers, prawns and some salmon steaks, which I poached in rosé wine and we all ate with new potatoes and freshly picked salad leaves from friends of ours who live in the middle of nowhere outside Dalbeattie. 

Traditional Fish And Chips At Polarbites In Kirkcudbright

Traditional Fish And Chips At Polarbites In Kirkcudbright

On 15th July, we supped on haddock, chips, mushy peas and a seafood platter (battered prawns, scallops, squid, cod and potato wedges) at Polarbites, and it was a feast of fresh fish tastes and good batter.  It was welcomly warming on the cold, damp first night of the Kirkcudbright Summer Festivities, where Scottish music and dances are performed every Thursday evening in the Harbour Square to the glorious backdrop of MacLellan Castle and the Harbour.  I love the sound of a proper marching pipe band and the Kirkcudbright & District Pipe Band is really good and is growing in popularity, now even boasting a full youth band this year for the first time.

Kirkcudbright Pipe Band

Kirkcudbright Pipe Band

Galloway Smokehouse Near Carsluith

Galloway Smokehouse At Carsluith In Dumfries & Galloway

But the best fish experiences are from two fantastic smokeries on the road between Gatehouse of Fleet and Creetown.  We went for a short trip to both – the first is the Galloway Smokehouse which operates a fantastic fishmonger as well as smoking fish, seafood and some meats on site, and the second is the Marrbury Smokehouse at Carsluith Castle, which is at such a romantic location beside this simple, small castle overlooking the sea across to Whithorn that it ranks as one of my favourite places for anything anywhere.  My daughter and I bought various things including smoked wild salmon from both, as well as kippers from Marrbury SmokehouseEn famille we did a taste test and, while both smoked salmons were of great quality, the Marrbury Smoked Salmon is a damn fine smoked salmon and won hands down, having a deep orangey-pink hue and a delicious, dry and rich meaty taste, made of fantastic chunky pieces of muscle giving a great texture and a delicate smoky, piney-junipery taste.  The smoked salmon from the Galloway Smokehouse was a bit sweeter, slimier and the colour pinker and less orange in colour, with much smaller muscle structure and so a soggier, softer texture, but still way better than your usual, mass-produced stuff that you find on most supermarket shelves.  We also did a taste test on the kippers and we think that the Loch Fyne Kippers and those of Marrbury Smokehouse are up there amongst the best I have ever tasted (those from Seahouses are still, for me, the epitome of smoked kippers).  Costs are £51/kg for the Marrbury Smokehouse Wild Smoked Salmon and £50.00/kg for the Galloway Smokehouse Wild Smoked Salmon, and that extra £1 is worth a million.

Marrbury Smokehouse At Carsluith Castle

Marrbury Smokehouse At Carsluith Castle

Scottish Smoked Salmon On Spelt Bread

Scottish Smoked Salmon On Spelt Bread

Scottish Kippers From Loch Fyne

Scottish Kippers From Loch Fyne

Also, I love the commitment and love that goes into the Marrbury Smokehouse.  Vincent Marr goes out in his coble and nets the wild salmon himself from pools between Newton Stewart and Wigtown, then he smokes the salmon and other things himself (allowing no-one else into the smoker, except his wife sometimes) to his own special recipe; the ingredients include salt, whisky and juniper smoke whereas the Galloway Smokehouse also uses some sugar syrup and an oak smoke rather than juniper.  This means that his smoked fish and seafood is only available in small quantities, with no corners cut, but on the downside there is no-one to pass his expertise on to.  He has a step daughter who lives in the Cayman Islands, which will not help us for the future.  It’s a hard life that few will really want to follow in the future.

If you can get hold of smoked salmon or other things from either of these smokeries it is well worth the effort, but go for the Marrbury Smokehouse out of preference as it’s worth going that extra mile.  I will retry the salmon poached in rosé wine again when back in Yorkshire, as I reckon that it would be great finished off with a pink peppercorn sauce, don’t you think?

(i)                  Castramom Wood is an ancient woodland on a steep slope on the east bank of the Water of Fleet.  We always imagine it full of tigers to urge the kids along through its dense bracken.  Castramom Wood is chock full of old, native trees like mighty oaks, birch, mystical alder and ash and there are charcoal burning stands at various points through the woods.  This is an old, spiritual wood with a great, life giving aura.