Being English (and a bit Scottish too, if I go back far enough), I reckon I'm a bit of an expert on Kedgeree. I hope you won't find this arrogant, it's not supposed to be; but I'm sure that us Anglo-Saxons are the only people who make this dish, and I'm all for spreading the word. In truth, I'm an unashamed, fully signed-up, kedgeree anorak.
Last year, I wrote a post about kedgeree, and it you're interested in the history of the dish and its Anglo-Indian origins, please click on the link and have a good read. Kedgeree is made out of three key ingredients: rice, fish and eggs. Traditionally, it's served either as a breakfast dish (silver chafing dishes, shooting breakfasts and all that), or for supper. I think it might also be good as a first course.
I'm sure that the first time I ever had kedgeree was at my uncle and aunts' place down in the Sussex countryside. This was the classic, Cromwellian, no-nonsense version; beloved of Empire and wary of excess: long grain rice, hard-boiled eggs, dyed smoked haddock, salt and pepper perhaps, with just a smidgin of curry powder. No cream, no lemon juice, no parsley; possibly re-heated or served cold as left-overs. Thrifty. Practical. Children should be seen and not heard.
Now zoom forward in time to the 1980's, and you have the cheffy, slightly effete, London interpretations of Michael Smith, Anton Mosimann, and Gary Rhodes- who had the bright idea of binding smoked eel in a creamy, Escoffier style Sauce Indienne.
Personally, I favour the Jane Grigson method (my own recipe based on her version in English Food): an onion is sliced up and sautéed in a mixture of oil and butter. Curry paste, nutmeg, crushed coriander seeds and a pinch of saffron are stirred in and cooked for a few moments. Next, long grain or basmati rice is stirred into the spicy butter and allowed to turn translucent. Fish stock (left over from cooking the haddock) is then poured in, and allowed to cook until there's no water left. Finally you stir in flaked undyed smoked haddock, sliced softly boiled eggs, a cup or so of cooked wild rice, cream and butter, and generous amounts of chopped parsley. The dish is finished off with a squeeze of lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper and a pinch of Cayenne Pepper, and served with a Mango Chutney on the side.
Onions and Peas?
Yes, in my opinion. Believe it or not, reasonably authentic to the original Indian version. I like to sauté a sliced or chopped onion with the rice. If I'm in the mood, I sometimes stir in some cooked peas with the smoked haddock.
I like kedgeree to have a bit of a kick. Partly because I'm a closet spice merchant, but also because I think the dish needs it. Avoid the bland. Don't forget kedgeree's Anglo-Indian origins: I reckon it needs a bit o' spice to make it authentic. I would recommend using a teaspoon or so of decent curry paste, rather than a curry powder, lots of nutmeg, crushed coriander seeds, and possibly a pinch of saffron- though I don't like the dish to turn bright yellow- too much like that radio-active 'pilau' rice you get fobbed off with down at your local Taj Mahal. A creamy, very light yellow colour, speckled with the green of the chopped parlsey, is the goal.
In theory, it should be undyed smoked haddock (not the cheaper yellow stuff), but in practice you can use any fish: cod, smoked eel, halibut or salmon. 1970's recipes often recommend tinned salmon- but I'm not convinced by that one, and I suspect if you're a bona fide foodie, you won't either. Smoked fish, in my opinion works well, as it tends to hold together a bit better; and of course, that oily smoked taste is no bad thing either. Place your fish fillet in some seasoned water, bring to the boil and turn off the heat, putting a lid back on the pan. Let the fish sit in the hot water- and about ten to fifteen minutes later it will be perfectly cooked. Use the fishy water as a stock, and pour it over the sautéed rice and spices. In effect, you're making a pilaf.
Free Range. Organic. I prefer them to be softly boiled. It's a very satisfying moment when you slice them open, and the hot, runny, yellow egg yolk runs out.
Yes, definitely. I always stir in a dollop of single cream, and add a knob of unsalted butter, too. It helps to keep your kedgeree moist, and that's no bad thing. Finish off the kedgeree with a squeeze of lemon juice- that works wonders, too. Another crucial question: do you make the kedgeree first, and then bind it in a creamy, curried sauce à la Gary Rhodes, or do you cook the rice in curried stock à la Jane Grigson? An unresolved dilemma, worthy of many sleepless nights.
Lots of chopped parsley, please. Coriander would work well, too. I like a pinch of Cayenne Pepper, though I accept that this might rot the old taste buds. Mango Chutney, however, works brilliantly with kedgeree, and brings out the lovely smoky, salty, sweet and sour flavours of this wonderful and classic dish.