Recipé for smoked mackerel kedgeree

On this page: I think conventional kedgeree is a bit boring, so this is a much peppier version and not for the faint-hearted. However, you can moderate the spices a bit or add your own favourites. The combination of mackerel and cloves might seem odd, but the rich oily fish is complemented by the warmth of the spice. Eat this for supper, or make it the night before and have it for a hearty breakfast.

Serves four hungry people, or six with dainty appetites

Ingredients

four fillets of smoked mackerel, skinned and flaked
two eggs
tin of crisp sweet corn kernels
2 medium onions, sliced
1 peeled clove garlic
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
a teaspoon each of whole cumin, coriander and fennel seeds
6 cloves, 6 cardamom pods
1 cm piece of cinnamon stick
10ml olive oil
275g basmati rice
a lemon.

Method

Wash the rice well and leave to soak in very hot water. Make a tiny hole in the blunt end of each eggshell with a skewer.

Put the onions in a pan with the oil, and fry till browned. Grind all the spices to a mash and scrape into the frying pan. Lower the heat, and stir for a couple of minutes. Tip in fish and sweet corn, then set pan aside to keep warm.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, adding the eggs (which should have clean shells for obvious reasons) at the start. When it's boiling, add the drained rice and cook till just al dente - this will only take about 5-6 minutes, depending on how well soaked it was.

Drain, remove eggs to cool a bit, and tip rice onto spice mixture. Fold in the rice so the mixture is fairly even, and if necessary heat gently for a minute or two (if you do the frying and boiling stages concurrently, you shouldn't need to do so, and the whole dish will only take about 20 minutes).

Shell the eggs (ouch - hot) and halve them. Pile the kedgeree onto a warmed serving dish and garnish with the eggs and lemon slices.

Notes

I never really know what to drink with this. Red wine doesn't stand up well to the fish, and most white is overpowered by the spices; cider and beer aren't too good either; so, we usually stick to water or tea. When I originally published this recipé, I asked readers to come up with better suggestions. Well, I'm pleased to report that I have had what sounds like a delicious recommendation - Sangria made with dry white wine rather than red. Thanks for passing this on, Norman Ryan of Durham, North Carolina, and to his friend James Lazenby of nearby Fearrington Village - the kedgeree chef and author of this delicious-sounding combination. Now, all I have to do is to discover how to make Sangria!

Make sure you use hot smoked mackerel for this - you can get cold smoked which is effectively raw and doesn't work nearly so well. And don't be tempted to skimp on the ingredients - it's just not the same made with long grain rice, preground dried spices or an old piece of "yellow fish".