Jugging your kippers

kipper pate

kipper pate

The only trouble with kippers is that they stink the place out. No matter that you’ve got an oil burner and an incense stick wafting aromatic aromas through the house, they don’t quite disguise that one aroma you’d rather not have.

We once rented a Kipper Cottage in Seahouses, Northumberland, well named as it was downwind of the town smokery a street or two away. To make it worse, I’d grill kippers for breakfast.

It was Kipper Sunday and I’d bought a pair from Mann’s of Sharrowvale Road but I didn’t want to grill them. The flesh gets hot, juices run enticingly and the flesh crisps up but even if you’ve got the extractor fan on and the window open it smells as if you’ve got a tramp as a houseguest the next day. So I decided to jug them.

This is when you immerse the kippers, heads removed, in a jug of hot water and wait for five minutes before sticking them on the plate. These were vacuum packed so I thought I’d put the whole package in the water, never mind the heads.

It worked. There were lots of buttery juices to pour over the kipper. The flesh doesn’t get quite as hot as when the fish is grilled, or as crisp, so it’s a softer eat. Grilling make the flesh separate more easily from the bones but that’s a minor matter. I am not sure where these kippers were smoked; they have quite a pronounced but not overpowering flavour.

This was a one kipper morning. I like to finish off with toast and home made marmalade but a little work turned the other kipper into pate, although that’s probably too grand a word for what is really kipper paste. Removing as many bones as possible I pounded the flesh in a mortar and pestle with a knob of butter, lemon juice, generous helping of paprika (my spice of the moment), ground black pepper and a third of a teaspoon of powdered mace. I sealed it with some melted butter garnished with a little parsley from a garden pot.

One pair of kippers makes me quite a few breakfasts and snacks throughout the week. And if the smell of grilled kipper rates 10 on a scale of one to 10 then jugged is five.


5 thoughts on “Jugging your kippers

  1. Oddly enough, chef, I was thinking about kippers the other day when I observed that a large fish factory had gone up in smoke, as it were, in Peterhead. Not that I like kippers, for life – certainly mine – is too short for devouring these creatures, never mind jugging them at home! I wondered if the said factory was one that I visited on a Scottish Tourism press trip circa 1984 and was ‘treated’ to a guided tour of its processes. Let’s say it was hardly a visit to encourage indulgence in fishy factory fodder. Huge steaming vats of fish paste are not an edifying sight, or smell.
    My clearest memory is of the kipper section, where despite all the industrialised preparation and packing, the factory had not yet mastered the knack of mechanically cutting those little stars of butter to seal into the pack. This arcane skill was the sole preserve of an 80-odd year old biddy seated at a simple table with a Victorian slicing machine which she used to turn out a formidable quantity of butter stars every day. She’d been there since Noah was a lad and no pesky device had ever come close to replacing her. Bless.
    I wonder if the world of commercial kippering has ever got to grips with slicing butter stars in bulk? As an obvious master of home kippering and a noted authority on all things culinary, perhaps you have the answer sir?


    • There’s kippers and there’s kipper fillets, the ones that get a pat of butter on. Fillets are for what my mother called fine-mouthed people, timid types who are scared of bones. I only have fillets if there are no others so I can’t really help you there. But shame on you Geoff, a great hulking Northern bloke who dismisses his birthright. I shall have to say it, a kipper dodger. You’ll be telling me you don’t like pan haggerty next!


      • Presume you mean panackelty … a fine creation for the working man that put a few hairs on my teenage Stocktonian chest. Haven’t had it for years but it was one of mother’s regulars, along with tripe and mash and parsley sauce which I did quite like at the time but I can live without it. I am an unashamed kipper dodger … I don’t mind the taste but fishbones are a pest. As the son of a transport cafe owner, do you boil blood in your backyard for home-made black pudding?


    • Wikipedia – that well known fount of truth – offers pan haggerty and panackelty as variant spellings, the latter being favoured around Sunderland which is closer to where I was brought up than Northumberland. There are similar slight variations in content, each promoting chest hair and leaded pencils. These days I’m an Iceland ready-meal man, with extra sprouts and carrots …


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