Sunday, April 18, 2010

Isle of Man smoked kippers with home-made crusty bread

I am currently on the beautiful Antrim Coast Road which winds its way up the east coast of Northern Ireland, through the Glens of Antrim to the Giants Causeway and beyond. 
We spent a lovely day on the beach, throwing stones into the water and digging with our new spades!
When I got home my mother suggested that we try some kippers - she had roughly twenty smoked kippers in a box fresh from the Isle of Man!
A kipper is a whole herring which has been split from tail to head, then gutted and either salted, pickled or smoked.

Traditionally a breakfast dish, we instead tucked into them for our evening supper.  Really I do not know how anyone might have time in the morning to eat these for breakfast as the de-boning alone takes a long time.  Our kippers are in the freezer and will keep well there for not longer than one month.

We ate these with some freshly baked bread and butter and a slice of lemon.


For the bread, you will need:

1kg of strong white flour, sifted (we used Doves Farm)
2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
700ml hot water
20g salt
1 tblsp vegetable oil

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.  Add most of the water and stir it around until the mixture starts to come together.  Then add the oil. 
Gather it into one large ball and turn it out onto a well floured work surface.
Knead for approximately ten minutes.  This involves stretching the dough with the heel of your hand, pushing it away from your body, then pulling back the stretched piece into the ball again.  A gradual circular motion ensures that the ball turns and the dough is kneaded thoroughly.  This process develops the gluten in the bread.  It should feel springy, light and alive to the touch.
Place the kneaded dough into the large bowl and place it somewhere warm but not hot, out of a draft and covered with a clean tea towel.
After one hour the dough should have doubled in size.  Take it gently out of the bowl again and knead again for five minutes.  This is called 'knocking it back'. 
Place the dough in a circular ball onto a well-floured baking sheet. 
Cover and leave for another hour.
In a preheated oven (230 degrees), place the loaf very gently on the shelf (do not slam the oven door) and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until it has a nice golden crust.
You will know it is ready if you tap the crust which should give a hollow sound.
This is easy and instantly satisfying ... there is no real mystery to it, anyone can do it.

This makes a large loaf.  You can half the ingredients or use one half to make pizza bases or small crusty baps - just reduce the baking time.

And now for the Kippers!

The kippers are simply dropped into boiling water for 3 minutes, patted dry and served with slices of buttered crusty bread and perhaps a slice of lemon.  The flavour of the fish is strong but delicious and so I would not serve anything more than perhaps an egg with this.

A lovely end to a spring day in Glenariffe

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