CHEF JP’S HADDOCK BREAKFAST AT THE DOCKS
CHEF JP brings haddock back into foodie fashion with a memorable dockside breakfast
To my mind, there has always been something fishy about sustainable fishing – perhaps great in concept but perhaps slow on policing. But, today, I’m heading to the docks to see if I can pick up some truly fresh cod/haddock.
Haddock, as we know it in South Africa, has become a memorable, traditional breakfast meal all on its own or paired with some resources of our own choice. It was a big hit in the sixties and has now been revived and brought to shore with some lovely new age packaging and added imagination – including a poach-in-the-bag cheese sauce from I & J.
But, today, we are shrugging off the supermarkets and I’m cooking haddock ‘vir ek en jy’.
Mostly found in cold Atlantic waters in North America and Europe, this tasty salty fish nevertheless has its place in South African waters. Even though, Out & About is meticulous about promoting our oceans’ sustainability, as a chef, I am adamant about the benefits of wild catch. But, we can find a balance that allows us to enjoy wholesome fresh food and not be hoodwinked into thinking that the only fish is frozen, packaged fish.
That’s why, no matter what the translucent label says, I make sure that I get my fish fresh and there is no dubious story telling for me on the box. If I can’t find the fillets that I’m looking for, I simply switch to what is both ethical and available and dream up another creative seafood dish.
CATCH OF THE DAY
Being a cold deep water fish, Haddock absorbs so many minerals from the plankton that they consume which is why their flesh is very rich in omega 3 fatty acids and really good for you.
Haddock – or Cape Hake – is naturally pink in colour, but gets naturally dyed, brined and smoked during the preparation process.
This week, I was lucky enough to hook some fresh haddock – and I’m ready to rock your boat!
Taking about cooking from outside the proverbial box of frozen fish, there is nothing better for me than a fresh ocean breeze with a fisherman casting his line (or throwing his nets where that is permitted) – and then rushing home to a traditional South African haddock breakfast.
Making your own cheese sauce is even better than the pouch in bag sauce number – quick and easy.
For your sauce, heat a saucepan to medium heat and add 125 ml of low fat milk, two teaspoons of all purpose flour and whisk vigorously. Add your salt and turn down the heat. Then, add about 100g of Cheddar cheese. Let it melt, give your sauce a last stir, before adding some smoked paprika and some black pepper. Then, it’s ready to serve.
To poach your haddock, add a dollop or two of butter in a medium saucepan and place your haddock skin into the pan, skin side up. Add 100ml milk and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Slow cook your fillets until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated. turn up the head and flip the fillets. Cook them for four to five minutes, Haddock flesh is very soft and tender, so it cooks in no time.
Clean your asparagus spears and steam them for five minutes in another pan. You can quickly caramelize them and then you are ready to serve up.
If you want to make your plate look extra colourful, you can grill a slice of tomato to add that dash of acidity and a little colour to your plate.
PERFECT QUAIL EGG YOLK WITH NON-SMOKED HADDOCK
The definition of the word poaching, as applied to eggs, is that our egg is gently immersed in a simmering pot of water with some vinegar. Then, soft or hard, we do have that critical choice to make…
For this dish, I used the non-smoked version – Cape hake with no colourants, pan seared.
But here comes my twist and something that I have never done before – POACHING JUST A PERFECT EGG YOLK…
Admittedly, poaching is not my forte, so I carefully, and admittedly with a shaky hand because of the nerves, placed my round egg yolk in the bubbling water. I had bought a dozen eggs to practice but, to my surprise (and this is not a classic fisherman’s tale) the first one came out perfectly. I would even dare myself to try it again!
COCO CABANNA AND HADDOCK PATE
My rule of thumb is: don’t ever buy fish on a Monday, but try to have at least two healthy fish meals a week. Getting those nutrients from the ocean is imperative for a healthy, balanced diet
This time round, I have totally confused my little Haddock friend by taking him out of his Atlantic cold comfort zone and poaching him in a tropical coconut milk that is reminiscent of warm tropical islands – and then serving him up with roasted coconut shavings.
Talking about taking a poor fish out of the water – I cooked and enjoyed every bit of him. Cooked fish kept at a fridge temperature of five degrees only has a shelf life for about two days so I transformed my leftover into a summery haddock pate
Shred your cooked leftovers, skin off and mix them into bowl together with about 100 grams of chive flavoured cream cheese, a dash of lemon juice plus salt and pepper to taste.
I served mine with some corn crisps, sunflower seeds and a hint of Cancun pepper.
TWO LOVE BITES
Here’s a little surprise and delight for those Sunday mornings, after you got home very late from a day of golf. I have a lot of experience here.
Cut your haddock fillet into bite size pieces and dip them into your mixture of three eggs, and 25 ml milk. Grate in some cheese of your choice, add some parsley, a dash of salt and a crack of black pepper.
Heat your pan with some butter and a splash of oil, splash of oil, in pour in your mix, let it simmer and the gently stir and fold the egg through the pan.
Follow that with 5 ml of chilli oil and pile your flavourful egg and haddock mix on to an English Muffin – and, voila, a brunch bite to the tee.
Well, that’s it for the moment, folks. The ideas for next week’s blog are already mushrooming (you’ll get it when you see it) – and I’m happy to have shared with you the perfect way to have breakfast-with-a-difference whilst still keeping an eye on those all-important triple S’s – simplicity, sensibility and sustainability.
Gone fishing …