Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Finnan Haddie

Besides whisky, one of the Scots' great contributions to good eating is finan haddie, a.k.a. smoked haddock. Today I found some tasty examples at the Cherry Hill Wegman's, $8.99/pound for tray-packed fillets. The light smoking gives these small sides of haddock a long shelf-life; the pack I bought has a pull date of December 31.

In conversation with the knowledgeable fish manager at Wegman's, I learned these babies came from a Massachusetts supplier (New Bedford, iirc). He opened a pack so we could taste some. Haddock is a fish that needs to be lightly smoked, and the sample I tried was done right. The flesh was very firm, the pellicle lightly-colored and thin. It was smoked not quite as much as one of the classic Scottish varieties, Arbroath Smokies, but I don't find that a negative.

How to use the smoked haddock?

Since I'm fond of fish soups, Cullen Skink is one possibility. This classic Scottish milk-based chowder relies on mashed potato as its thickener, otherwise it's not at all that different from a classic New England fish chowder (done with milk, not thickened absurdly so a spoon can stand in it, as many fish house versions would have you believe).

I could also do fish on a shingle, i.e., prepare it the same way you could creamed chipped beef and serve over toast or home fries. Now that's a breakfast of champions!

Most likely I'll make a spread, mashing up the fillet with cream cheese, adding some onion, parsley and fresh ground pepper.

Sitting in the Wegman's refrigerator case next to the smoked haddock were packs of dressed and headless kippered herring. Another possibility for a champions' breakfast when served along scrambled eggs. Think of kippers as the bacon of the sea.

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