Here’s one of those stupidly infrequent times when I go off piste and cook according to my whim instead of the fixed script of someone else’s recipe. I’ll try all sorts of daft, adventurous ideas in the kitchen but I’m usually in the company of a published chef’s work. This gives me the confidence needed to produce half decent food. After years of fairly constant success I should have the wherewithal to go with my own flow more often. The results here force me to think that I do have that wherewithal… and that I ruddy well ought to put cookbooks in the background at least a couple of times a week. The meal as it ended up here still relies on all sorts of familiar and remembered texts from others.
Thursday means that Dean is in the village with his fish van. So Thursday also means that we start with the finest ingredients for that evening’s meal. Traditional Grimsby Smoked Haddock was the first thing that caught my eye. And sometimes first impressions are the ones to go with. Enough here for a lunch with poached egg and the trimmings to work on for dinner. Kedgeree, maybe… something with mild spice to round off the smoky allure of that fish.
Portions all cut to size and ready for action. In the end I took a sliver off those ‘cushions’ on the left to add to the chunks for our evening meal.
The meal was taking shape in my head and only appeared fully as I cooked later on. But here is how it should all be recorded as a repeatable recipe.
400g Traditional Grimsby Smoked Haddock, cut into generous but bite-sized pieces
Rapeseed oil or butter ghee for frying
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3cm fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1/2 tsp chilli powder or a finely chopped mild red chilli
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp curry powder
300 ml chicken stock
300 ml double cream
Start the sauce by gently frying the onion, garlic and ginger in oil or in butter ghee for 5 minutes or long enough to soften the onion. Add the spices and cook through for 3 more minutes. Season and add the stock. Bring up to a bubbling simmer and reduce the liquid by a half. Add the double cream and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Nearly there in the following pic. Must admit to pausing a while before stirring away that reminder of psychedelia and lava lamps.
The sauce is now rich and creamy. I took off half of it for another time and added the fish to what was left in the pan. Keep simmering at low heat until the fish is evenly heated.
Stir in the lemon juice and coriander before serving. As with many things, the lemon highlights flavours but not much is needed… go easy.
I had par-boiled rough cubes of potato and they were roasting in the oven in a little rapeseed oil.
Cauliflower was our other side. This was a happy accident. Not the cauliflower, but its cooking. I had chopped too much ginger and had a small pot of the excess waiting to be frozen. This went straight into the ghee at the start of the sauce preparation with the assigned ginger, onion and garlic looking on forlornly. I carried on until the solo ginger was reasonably coloured and the oil was infused with its aromas. This was poured off and brushed over the cauliflower with a little ground cumin before the florets joined the potatoes for roasting. You should be able to see the golden glow achieved in the final plating.
More texture came from a couple of home-made bhajis. These were crumbled and put on a tray to crisp up evenly in the oven. Their crunch made a great contrast with the softer fish and sauce below. More chopped coriander completed the dish.
This was heady stuff for a midweek meal. My kedgeree musings had been modified. No need for an egg here. We were left with a silken, creamy sauce with gentle but insistently warming spices. Earthy potatoes seemed more welcoming than rice. The cauliflower, benefiting from its minor accident was a mini triumph. Bhajis can prove too heavily spiced. In which case perhaps leave them out or fry some thinly sliced onion until crispy.
As if all that weren’t enough the fishy main event is waiting to delight you from the depths of that indulgent sauce. Even against the surrounding competition such a quality ingredient should hold its own. This proved to be a lovely balanced recipe where it could do exactly that.