Kipper Kedgeree? Salted Fish Fried Rice?

aka possibly the most fusion thing I’ve ever concocted while starving and improvising…

The story starts with a canned tin of fish.

You see, a while ago, I was on an experimental kick to try different types of tinned fish than the bog standard tuna in cans.

Not that our tuna is similar either.

A very popular brand in Singapore supermarkets is Ayam brand tuna.

Beyond the normal range of chunks and flakes in all varieties of oil and water and mayonaise (plus mildy spicy and hot blends), there is chili, tom yam, tomato chilli, curry, and black pepper flavored tuna, as well as seasoned spicy tuna to stir into Malay fried rice or “Nasi Goreng” (nasi is Malay for rice, goreng for fried.)

The problem is, it’s all tuna. Cooked and prepared in many different ways, yes, but still tuna.

So I branched out to sardines.

I was never an extreme fan of sardines, mostly because our Asian style of sardines fished and prepared and tinned somewhere in Thailand are extremely chunky monsters with bones that are distinctly not ignorable. Their backbones are about the size of a cotton bud’s shaft.

I’ve known people who cheerfully crunch them down regardless, but me, I end up performing spinal surgery on each halved fish before I can face the prospect of chowing down.

Flavor-wise, there’s the same broad profile. Olive oil, olive oil and chili (ridiculously spicy, by the way), chili and lime, black olive and caper, and sardines tuned to more Asian tastebuds with teriyaki sauce or black bean sauce.

Ultimately, I decided I was the biggest fan of the black bean sauce, except the sardines in that tin are fried (no wonder they’re tasty!) and probably best eaten sparingly.

Having exhausted the local brand, I started eyeing the imports. John West and King Oscar are fairly common brands here too, if nearly double the price.

I ended up falling in love with King Oscar sardines. The brisling variety of sardine is a lot finer and more delicate, with no need to extract any bones and a purer fishier aroma.

From there, it was on to tinned anchovies.

Which I’ve never managed to consume whole (such a waste just eating it), but end up using like Chinese-style salted fish or our local ikan bilis to add flavor to other things. It simply dissolves upon heating into the oil to form this ridiculously tasty umami-laden sauce – mix with pasta and vegetables, for example.

Canned salmon was right out, since fresh salmon is available, but what is this curiously labeled tin of “kippers?”

Today, I pulled this out of the cupboard, having run out of ideas for anything else I could eat in a hurry.

One test mouthful revealed a very smoky, intense-flavored fish.

It wasn’t too bad, but it sure was very intense – full of smoke and fish essence with every bite. Not quite as distilled flavor as tinned anchovies, but not exactly on a sardine scale where one would be just inclined to eat them out of the tin.

Well, you could, if you liked mouthfuls of smoke.

Paired like the pictured serving suggestion with bread and a poached egg, both of which are more flavorless in themselves, I could see how smoked kippers might go well.

No bread here, alas. Nor was I in the mood for boiling eggs.

At my wit’s end, I Googled up “kipper recipes” to find a myriad of suggestions for kedgeree.

This is, apparently, a dish of curried rice, flaked fish and boiled eggs, an Anglo-Indian fusion born from the days when India was a British colony.

Despite Singapore being a British colony as well, with Indians represented in our population, this particular dish has never quite made it here, so I have no clue if what I came up with is the least bit authentic.

Probably not, but when you’re dealing with a fusion dish that seems to be improvised from what was available at the time, I doubt it hurts to improvise even further.

1) Set nonstick pot on stove. Dump in generous amount of butter.

2) Lacking onions, substitute with garlic as an aromatic. (Garlic fried rice is tasty, after all!)

3) Scoop out kippers from brine, reserving liquid, and gently fry in butter to aromatize.

4) Dump in washed rice in buttery-kipper mixture to further aromatize. Add some curry powder for spice and toss everything around for a while to coat in oil and heat up.

5) When deemed sufficiently flavored through, add reserved kipper brining liquid and additional water as a stock for the rice to absorb while cooking. Liquid should just about top the layer of rice, sort of a 1:1 ratio. Too much liquid, say a 2:1 ratio or more, and you’ll get savory porridge or congee instead.

6) Cover and steam at a low simmer until rice is about done.

7) Add frozen peas, rinsed and washed beforehand to lightly thaw them out. Stir and continue to heat everything through.

8) Crack in two eggs, let cook slightly, then stir them through the rice to make everything fluffy and “fried rice”-esque.

The last bit was just me being lazy.

Apparently, kedgeree needs to have hard boiled eggs. I’m not that big a fan of either eating nor preparing them that way (an additional pot means more washing up to do!) but I do love me some eggy fried rice any time of the day.

So the result is not quite kedgeree, except that it has curried rice, flaked fish and eggs.

Nor is it quite fried rice, since it wasn’t intensely wok-fried or drenched in oil or started with precooked rice.

fish&rice

Whatever it was, it tasted pretty good.

To further confuse the fusion issue, I took a page off the Malay Nasi Goreng, which pairs its fried rice with crunchy prawn crackers.

There was also Indian murukku in the house, and some of it got crumbled on top of the rice too.

Not wishing to be left out, a Western influence also insisted on being present as toaster-oven roasted carrots and plum tomatoes.

Guess that thing about necessity being the mother of invention is true after all.

I Ate This: Two-Cheese Omelette and Toaster Oven Roasted Vegetables

omelette

Sudden craving for a oozing cheesy omelette.

So I made one.

Two beaten eggs, some shredded fresh dill and black pepper, aged cheddar cheese and parmesan crumbled in.

There’s some shredded chicken stuffed inside too, but that’s just because there were leftovers in the fridge.

Syl beat me to posting about roasted vegetables, so I won’t reinvent the wheel, but I’ve been recently into them ever since I figured out that my oven toaster (or toaster oven) was perfectly capable of roasting vegetables. (Duhhh. Right?)

I needed to get back to avoiding too much refined carbs and eating more vegetable carbs anyway, so I was sitting around trying to puzzle out how I could find more lazy ways to get more vegetables in my diet beyond salads and boiling leafy green stuff. (Let’s not even talk about stir-frying, too much time in the kitchen and slaving over a fire.)

I mean, some days, you don’t even feel like boiling water because it’s a pain to stand there and wait for the water to boil, before putting your veggies in, and after that, they taste like… boiled water.

You certainly don’t feel like breaking out your massive oven tray and lining it with foil and going through a big preheating production and massive electrical bill just to roast a small quantity of vegetables, to say nothing of the washing up afterwards.

But you know, lining a small metal tray with foil, piling some cut vegetables coated with olive oil onto it, sticking it in a toaster oven and setting it for 15 minutes… then walking away and going off to read some Reddit posts or watch some television until the cheery little “ding” announces the newly redolent veggies, a little shrunken and glistening with caramelized natural sugars, are ready to be consumed…

…that you can do.

oventoasterveggies

And yes, they’re also good smothered with cheese.

Zucchinis, red peppers, and eggplants have all been the recent recipient of this.

And if you’ve never tried French beans aka green beans prepped this way, DO.

They’re as addictive as french fries, and probably a little healthier.

Just do a Google image search for “roasted green beans” and don’t say I didn’t warn you if you get sudden cravings.

Also fantastic with these vegetables and some pan-fried salmon is this anchovy and caper miracle sauce from Nom Nom Paleo.

Lazy person that I am, I merely microwave-melted the tinned anchovies, stirred in capers and extra olive oil to taste. Didn’t have red pepper flakes, so added a dash of my ground chili paste instead. No lemon juice or parsley neither, but those are all extras anyway.

J’s Philosophy of Food and Cooking

Heya everybody!

A big thank you to Liore for the invitation to this blog where food and games meet.

If there’s something food and games have in common, it’s a great way for global barriers to drop. I remember being extremely impressed in my online games to discover one person was from such-and-such country, and yet another from somewhere across the globe.

The topic of food is another such unifier.

So who is Jeromai?

A long-winded wall-of-texter when it comes to all things games, and as you’ll soon find out, of food, and practically everything else.

I hail from Singapore, and if there’s one thing you should know about my country, besides the well known “facts” that it’s “very clean” (I guess?) and that it’s got something to do with China (it’s not, it’s nowhere in China, it’s a tiny little speck of an island on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, its population is predominantly Chinese, yes, but there’s a good mix of Malays, Indians and other ethnicities… much of whose food culture has ended up borrowing from each other making us fairly multicultural…)

…it’s that we’re all obsessed with food.

Every person you ask will have their own opinions on the best places to eat, and what the best rendition of a particular dish is, in an island a mere 50 kilometers (or 31 miles) across.

The sheer density of restaurants and food stalls is quite stunning.

This does, of course, have an effect on the average waistline and the preponderance of obesity in the country.

This is especially obvious when one hears about low-carb diets and goes around staring at every stall in the usual hangout of the typical Singaporean – the hawker centre – to realize that every meal comes loaded with a big bowl of rice, or noodles, or rice noodles, or bread, or fries, or some other starchy variant thereof.

Bah.

I’ve kinda slipped off that wagon lately, and gained some kilos as a result, but one thing I do try to do when I cook at home is to skew towards healthy cooking and eating.

  • Good quality, raw ingredients.
  • Not too much refined carbohydrates, though I’m no stickler and probably follow a more moderate carb sort of eating style when all is said and done.
  • A focus on cramming in more vegetables and fruits whenever possible. because if left to my old habits of eating out all the time, I simply don’t ingest enough.
  • Meat-wise, I know unprocessed is best, but it’s so much more of a pain to prepare and ham and sausages are so… nommy. (Still working on changing lifestyle on this point.)

I’m a big fan of the science of cooking – books by Harold McGee and Alton Brown dot my shelves, and Serious Eats’ Food Lab is on my Feedly.

I try to prepare simple stuff most of the time, because I’m lazy / don’t like to wash up 50 pots and pans and plates just for one meal / I’m not likely to cook and eat it on a regular basis if it takes too dang long, which defeats the purpose of healthy-ish home-cooking and all of that takes time away from game time.

However, I do cook like a traditional Asian grandmother… in that I tend to wing it and eyeball my ingredients and adjust to taste.

Measuring is not really my thing. I will no doubt make a lousy baker.

It’s a good thing I like savoury foods more.

My theory is simple. Understand the WHY of cooking, read a bunch of recipes and figure out the similarities between them and what the approximate ratios are, and you can pretty much cook it and then later, if you’re so inclined, add your own unique spin to it.

You do get the occasional accidents with this method, where you over-salt something because your estimations sucked or something turns inedible (so don’t try it when you’ve got other hungry mouths on the line waiting for it) but these things generally only happen once because, dang, do you learn from it. :/

But what you get in return is a lot of flexibility and confidence in producing something passably edible from whatever is left in your refrigerator or pantry, and every now and then, a beautiful conjunction of flavors that make you close your eyes in ecstasy when eating and marvel why chefs in gourmet restaurants haven’t figured this blend of ingredients out yet.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking.

In the next post – A Newbie’s Guide to DIY Vinaigrette and Lazy Person’s Salad.