A brilliant fish at any time, smoked haddock is especially welcome in the early months of the year, when storms may affect supplies of fresh fish. The essence of cold-weather comfort food, it’s at its best in dishes like creamy fish pies and steaming chowders, bubbling smokies and less usual breakfast dishes such as kedgeree.
Mainly from the North Atlantic, melanogrammus aeglefinus is a fish of the cod family and is processed in numerous places, including Ireland. The traditional preservation methods are drying and smoking; smoked haddock is so popular in France that when ‘haddock’ is referred to it means smoked, not fresh, haddock.
Quality smoked haddock is undyed, and the benchmark for naturally smoked haddock is usually taken to be ‘Finnan haddies’, which were traditionally smoked over peat in the fishing village of Finnan, near Aberdeen; similar products are now widely available and produced by methods using varying amounts of traditionalism, although all are cleaned, split and brined before the smoking process.
Well known styles include ‘Glasgow pales’ which are removed from the smoke when they are still a very pale colour, and Arbroath smokies (sometimes also made with whiting), which are hot-smoked in pairs until the skins are copper-brown, but the flesh is still very pale.
Like its cousin smoked cod, smoked haddock is widely available from fishmongers and the wet fish counters in supermarkets. Look for a natural, undyed smoke – it is easy to tell as the flesh is quite pale in comparison with the more usual bright orange dyed ‘smoked’ fish.
Smoked white fish, especially haddock, is one of the most useful and versatile winter seafoods – an ideal ingredient mixed off with other fish and shellfish in mixed seafood dishes like chowders, pies, ragoûts and cassolettes, and also good on its own served with, for example, cabbage and a creamy mustard sauce.
It teams beautifully with eggs and, together with rice and hard-boiled eggs, it’s one of the key ingredients in the traditional breakfast dish kedgeree – and lightly poached smoked haddock is seriously more-ish served with poached eggs on toast. It also makes a delicious starter – in, for example, ‘smokies’, which are made with tomato concassé, smoked haddock and melting cheese, served hot…
For further ideas and recipes, see the consumer section of the Bord Iascaigh Mhara website
RECIPE for Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes
You could use a mixture of fish for this recipe, or you could just use one variety, and increase the quantity. Don’t over-process the fish cake mixture, as it’s nice to see chunks of fish when you cut the fish cake open. If you are going to make a parsley sauce, reserve the poaching liquid from the fish and use instead of some of the milk.
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