Warm Creamy Kipper Pots – an Easy Smoked Fish Starter
As a Scot, you can imagine my surprise and excitement on seeing kippers at our local poissonerie or fish market last week. Did they know Burn’s Night is approaching on 25 January? Apparently it was just a coincidence but it’s great timing to prepare these kipper pots for an alternative Scottish-style starter to the more traditional Cullen Skink (smoked haddock soup/chowder).
I love all kinds of smoked fish (have you tried these smoked haddock fishcakes yet?). As they tend to be on the expensive side, kippers are ideal since they’re much more reasonably priced – even in France!
What Are Kippers?
For those of you unfamiliar with kippers, they’re brined or salted smoked herrings and presented butterflied. They’re normally the kings at the Scottish breakfast table, just heated through and served with a knob of melting butter skating on the surface with an accompanying large pot of strong breakfast tea.
Kippers for breakfast has always been something special, as we didn’t have them often – probably following the rare times that Grandpa had some left from his fish van’s morning rounds on the East Coast, just south of Edinburgh.
The one thing I remembered was picking our way through the number of finicky bones – perhaps that’s why they’re cheaper than the other smoked fish, but small kipper bones are perfectly edible and often regarded as the best part! I agree only if you don’t like talking at breakfast time. Is that why my aunties don’t like fish? I need to get to the bottom of that one. The answer will float to the surface at some point.
Personally, I prefer to take out as many bones as I can find so it takes me a few more minutes to prepare (although it’s not necessary) but that’s the hardest part of the recipe. I first discovered this recipe by Christopher Trotter in “Scottish Traditional Recipes” and although have slightly altered it over the years, it still remains a wonderfully easy dish to prepare. The rest is just mashing the ingredients with a fork (so no fancy mixer required) and letting it cook gently in a warm bath in the oven for 30 minutes while you can be getting on with the rest of your menu – like dessert!