I can’t remember how I first encountered this dish…I think it might have been through Jamie Oliver. I discovered Jamie when he started with “The Naked Chef”. At the time I was studying in England, nothing related to cuisine, but I fell in love with his rustic & tasty recipes and how simple he made the process sound. It was the first chef who inspired me and I like to work with his laid-back intuitive way. That is, not by the book, not following a recipe straight-forward, but adapting it to taste…"try it, stick your finger in, needs more salt? ah, how about some chilli in to give it a little kick? hum, I think it’s missing something. Yeah, that’s it, some kalonji, will go perfect with it!”. I’ve recently started teaching, the most gratifying experience in my life, by the way, and that’s what I’m trying to pass across: to feel it, to taste it, to make the experience theirs, to feel free to improvise and see through a recipe into the endless possibilities!
Anyway, about the dish, can’t remember if it was through Jamie, but from the first time I tried it, I liked it. I love rice dishes, I really enjoy any type of curry (Indian, in this case) and flaked fish gives this dish personality, combined with other herbs and spices. Apparently, kedgeree originated in colonial India and the british introduced the dish into the UK. It is usually served as a breakfast dish, but I never have it for breakfast, but rather for lunch or dinner. It is traditional to use smoked haddock in the dish, but I once saw a video of Gordon Ramsay using fresh salmon and poaching it in a saffron-infused stock, so I tried his idea and adapted it. I’m very particular on how fish is cooked. In Spain, it is generally overcooked. But I like it rather on the undercooked side, just until the flakes begin to separate. So, I poach the salmon from cold in a stock with saffron and other ingredients from the rice “sofrito”: ginger and coriander, to introduce those flavours into the salmon.
Furthermore, kedgeree is usually served with parsley, but I’d much rather add coriander which combined with the ginger freshes up the taste. Also, I like to add ripe cherry tomatoes rather than chopped up larger tomatoes, for looks and taste, they are sweeter. Finally, I like the touch of kalonji (nigella seeds, sometimes referred to as black cumin or onion seeds, but really are neither) to the finished dish! The rest is as traditional recipes: basmati rice (or any other perfumed long-grain rice), curry and hard-boiled eggs. It makes a very complete dish, super tasty and light, which can be eaten warm or cold…feel free to change the fish to your preference or adjust the spices to your liking! I hope you enjoy it!
(enough for 5 servings)
For the salmon:
water (to cover)
a few sprigs of coriander
a piece of fresh ginger
a pinch of saffron
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the rice:
~40g of oil or butter (for sautéeing)
200g of onion (or ideally shallots)
3 cloves of garlic
~15g of fresh ginger
1 tbsp curry powder
250g of basmati (or jasmine rice)
a few coriander sprigs & leaves
1/2 tbsp of coriander root (if not available use the stalk)
~200g of cherry tomatoes
100g of green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/8 tsp of cumin seeds (a pinch!)
1/4 tsp of coriander seeds
a pinch of kalonji seeds
salt & freshly ground pepper
a knob of butter or ghee ( to finish up the dish)
Begin by preparing your stock to poach the salmon and cook the rice.
Simply add the ingredients to about 400g of water, so you have enough to cook later on. Add to that while still cold the salmon and bring to a simmer slowly.
When you see the salmon flakes easily it’s ready, so remove the fillet and strain the stock. Then, flake the salmon where it naturally breaks up.
Just a note to say, that if you don’t particularly like poached fish, you can cook it in a pan searing all sides with little oil until cooked through. Similarly, when pressing down, it should naturally separate. Then, set aside.
To start preparing the rice, just slice the onion finely in brunoise (little squares) and start slowly frying it in the oil or butter in a pan that will fit the rice (it doubles after cooking) and that has a lid. When it starts to soften, add the garlic, the ginger and the coriander root or stalk (from the leaves you will add up later to finish), also finely chopped up. Cook slowly until the onion begins to colour lightly and it is very soft.
Then, add the curry powder and the cumin and coriander seeds so with they fry a little to develop more aroma.
Add the rice (measuring it’s volume in a cup or glass, so you can add the same volume of stock later) and slowly fry until translucent.
Add the tomatoes, cut in half, leaving about a few to decorate at the end, or you can alternatively leave them all for later ( I prefer to cook them so they concentrate and become sweeter).
Measure a little more hot stock than the volume of rice. Bring to a boil, season with salt, cover and bring to a minimum. It depends on the rice, but I usually set my timer to 10 minutes, when it beeps, I turn off the heat, and keep it covered for 5 more. Just in case it’s different for you, after 8 minutes check if there’s any liquid left and how cooked is the grain of rice. If it needs more liquid, add a bit, cover and continue.
While it is cooking bring enough water to a boil, to cook the peas. Strain when ready and refresh under running cold water.
Also, hard-boil the eggs, by bringing them to a boil covered with water and counting about 10 minutes or a bit more (for a medium-size). Then cooling them in cold water, so you get a clean yellow-orange yolk without the greyish-green line from overcooking them! Then, cut up in eigths. I like to use a cheese wire, so it’s a clean cut, and it doesn’t stick to the blade of the knife.
When the rice is ready, lift up the lid, and carefully stir the rice to fluff up the grains. Then, just add in everything else: The peas, the kalonji seeds, the chopped up coriander, the salmon and add a bit of butter or ghee (it’s nicer, as it has a beurre noisette flavour, or just prepare your own beurre noisette) to cream and season.
You are ready to serve!