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.