Catching the faint whiff of a bonfire on the breeze might have some extra piquancy this year as 2020’s fallen leaves go up in smoke. Smokeheads may also enjoy a cup of lapsang tea with a dark chocolate biscuit in the late afternoon, an Islay malt of an evening, or this excellent simple dish, from Sue Lawrence’s fantastic A Taste of Scotland’s Islands. Think less “Welsh”, this is a rarebit with the tang of the sea and the smokehouse. It’s a perfect fish supper for a winter Friday (or any day of the week).
Sue writes, ‘This is a delicious brunch or supper dish. At brunch, serve simply with strong tea or coffee; at supper with a simple green salad and a glass of chilled white. There are many excellent fish-smokers all over the Hebrides and the Northern Isles; just ensure you use undyed.’ When the postie’s been, we use smoked haddock from the Tobermory Fish Company, which is run by the Swinbanks family, great Friends of Birlinn. As of this writing, there’s still just time to order their very special smoked trout for Christmas.
Smoked Haddock Rarebit
By Sue Lawrence, from A Taste of Scotland’s Islands
- 300g undyed smoked haddock fillets
- 250ml milk
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 1 level tbsp Dijon mustard
- 50g grated Mull Cheddar
- 2 English muffins split and lightly toasted
Place the fish in a saucepan with the milk. Bring slowly to the boil, bubble for 1 minute then remove from the heat and cover. Leave for half an hour or so, then strain through a sieve over a jug. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, stir for a minute and add the reserved fish liquor. Whisking, cook over a medium-low heat until smooth. Stir in the mustard, fish, cheese and seasoning to taste. Spread on top of the lightly toasted muffins and set on a grill tray. Grill until the topping is gooey and hot. Remove onto serving plates and serve at once, though a little patience is required: bear in mind hot molten cheese can burn your tongue!