The Guerilla Griller is back, after a short absence enforced by the chaos of a house move and a delay in getting the broadband connected at the new place. For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath for the next instalment, thank you for your patience. For those of you who have found this by accident while googling for kippers, hello, welcome, and I suppose I’d better get on with the recipe.
Often served for breakfast in the UK, and an ideal brunch for a lazy weekend morning, kippers are herring, gutted, split, salted and then cold-smoked. As with bacon etc, it is sadly all too easy to buy imitations which have been injected or bathed in a combination of food dye and artificial smoke flavourings: avoid these, and insist on the real thing.
Kippers are often grilled, and as the Guerilla Griller I suppose I should favour this treatment, as they are delicious when cooked this way. However, your house will smell of kippers for days afterwards, as will anything else you cook in the grill, however well-scrubbed, and every cat from the neighbourhood will be trying to break down your door. Far better, perhaps, and much easier to “jug” them. This has nothing to do with “jugged hare” recipes, in which the creature is cooked with its own blood, and it simply means that you cook the kippers in a jug of boiling water.
This truly is a very simple and easy five-minute fish recipe; the kippers will be taking care of themselves while you poach the eggs and slice the bread.
Jugged Kippers with Poached Eggs Recipe and Method
1 pair of kippers per person – a “pair” is actually one fish, split down the middle, but left as one piece, like an open book or magazine.
Boiling water to cover the fish
1 or 2 very fresh free-range eggs per person as you desire
More boiling water for the eggs, salted and with a dash of vinegar (the vinegar helps set the protein of the egg whites, and it tastes good)
A large heatproof jug or bowl for the kippers, a pan for the poached eggs.
Put the fish, head down, into the jug and pour on boiling water until the fish is covered (the tails can stick out, as you’re not going to eat them). Cover with a towel or similar to keep warm. The fish will be ready in five minutes.
Bring a pan of salted and vinegared water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer (I find frying pans ideal for poaching eggs, as you have more space in which to operate, but any pan or saucepan will do). Break an egg onto a saucer or plate, and gently slide the egg from there into the water, which helps it keep its shape. If you have to do more than two eggs, it may be best to do them in batches. To batch-cook poached eggs: poach the eggs until set to the consistency you like, then scoop from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water, which will immediately stop them cooking further. Once you have cooked all the eggs, they can be refrigerated and then reheated when needed by plunging into some freshly boiled water for a few minutes.
Decant the kippers from the water and serve with the poached eggs, and perhaps some crusty bread or toast. I like a good grind of black pepper on the eggs and fish, but you probably won’t need to add any salt.
As kippers are not easily found in many countries, you could experiment and try this method with any cold-smoked fish that you like that is locally available to you.