I recall from when I was young a rhyme that began "Have you ever seen a fly with an eyeglass in its eye?" and which included the line "a plate of kedgeree". I have been unable to find the poem in question but kedgeree goes back a long way in my childhood. It was what we would usually eat for supper on Christmas Eve before the ritual of hanging our stockings. For a few years, after my mother had made a trip to America, the kedgeree was replaced with chowder, until my father realised that the cost of the fish involved was more than the cost of the turkey or the goose the next day: and this was supposed to be an abstemious meal ahead of the gluttony!
Kedgeree can be disappointing. I have had it, stodgy and lukewarm, help yourself from a metal serving dish, at one of those Midnight Breakfasts at an all-night Ball.
That stalwart, Elizabeth David, has a splendid recipe in one of her books, Spices, Salts and Aromatics in the English Kitchen. She calls it "Quick Kedgeree" and, unusually for her, is relatively relaxed about what goes into it. "You can apply the same system", she says, "to prawns, mussels, vegetables, chicken, meat". She has one proviso: "Good-quality rice, either long-grained Basmati or the hard round-grained Italian variety is essential. Soft pudding rice will turn to just that - pudding."
Ingredients are 3 smoked haddock fillets, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 medium onion, 4 heaped tablespoons of rice, a scant teaspoon of curry powder, 2 tablespoons of sultanas or currants, seasoning, 2 hard-boiled eggs, parsley, water; a lemon and chutney.
First pour boiling water over the haddock fillets. Leave them two or three minutes, drain them, peel off the skin and divide the fish into manageable pieces.
Heat the oil in a heavy 10 inch frying or sauté pan. In this fry the sliced onion until pale yellow. Stir in the curry powder. Add the rice (don't wash it). Stir all round together. Add the washed sultanas or currants. Pour in 1 pint of water. Cook steadily, not at a gallop, and uncovered, for 10 minutes. Put in thee haddock. Continue cooking until the liquid is all absorbed and the rice tender - approximately 10 minutes. But keep an eye o it to see it doesn't stick, and stir with a fork, not a spoon which breaks the rice. Taste for seasoning. Salt may or may not be required. Turn on to a hot serving dish. On the top strew the chopped eggs and parsley - and, if you like, a nice big lump of butter. Surround with lemon quarters and serve with mango chutney.