Ah, comfort food, the best thing is when you’ve had a bit of a crappy day and eat a nice bowl of something. When I think of comfort food, I think of a few things: khao tom (Thai rice porridge), khao mun gai (Thai chicken with chicken rice), hot and sour soup and lastly, kedgeree. Kedgeree is an Indian-spiced rice dish where smoked fish is the make it or break it ingredient: if you use bad quality fish it simply won’t turn out as tasty. Some versions use lentils but most would almost always include the sweet caramelised onions along with a scattering of grated hardboiled eggs. Kedgeree has been a dish I have returned to time and time again for many years now. It is always quite different every time I make it—more spicy and heady at times, then other times quite mild and warming. I first came across kedgeree in Wellington at one of my favourite cafes, Nikau. And they still make the best kedgeree: I think part of the reason is the kind of smoked fish they use. I am not sure what kind of fish they use exactly, but I think smoked haddock is wonderful! Since moving to Britain, I discovered the lovely flaky soft and luscious smoked haddock which I love in kedgeree. The best kind to get is naturally smoked and undyed. I also like using brown basmati rice for its nuttiness and texture and for some reason the nutritious, healthy taste of brown rice helps balance out the richness of the kedgeree. The recipe below is my own adaptation of various kedgeree recipes I’ve tried.
Smoked haddock kedgeree
250g smoked haddock
full fat milk
1 bay leaf
4 Tablespoons butter
1.5 cups of basmati brown rice, cooked
1.5cm stub of fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
2 sprigs spring onion, finely chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, grated
1/4 cup coconut milk
2-3 teaspoons hot curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoons brown sugar
salt and pepper
1. Place the smoked haddock in a wide pan and pour in the milk—it should just come up to the side of the fish. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns and simmer till the fish is just under done. This should take about 3 minutes or less. Remove from heat, drain and flake the fish, set aside.
2. Chop one of the onions into the finest rings possible. Add oil to a heavy pan and once hot, add the onions. Fry on a medium high heat till onions are brown and crispy. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towels and set aside. Dice the left over onion.
3. In the same pan, add oil and add diced onions. Cook on a low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Now add the ginger and garlic and cook till the garlic begins to colour. Add half the butter at this stage, along with all of the spices. Cook for two minutes being careful not to burn the spices.
4. Mix the cooked rice into the pan and stir till it is covered in butter and spices. Add the rest of the butter along with the spring onion, coconut milk and fish.
5. Add salt and pepper (you won’t need much as smoked haddock is salty). Taste for seasoning and add the parsley and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.
6. To finish, add half the grated egg and half of the caramelised onions and give it a final stir. Serve with the rest of the egg and onion.