One of the best meals I’ve eaten this week was a plate of very smoky, buttery kippers on thick-cut toast with a poached egg. A perfect brunch, washed down with rocket fuel coffee, on holiday in Scotland on one of those unexpected mornings when the sun is so warm it makes you feel you might actually be brave enough to jump in the loch (we did, followed by swigs of whisky).
There is something very comforting about an old fashioned smoked fish supper. I’m always surprised by how delicate the flavour is compared with the thwack of smoke that hits you when you first unwrap it. Whether you’re using a whole fish or fillets, they don’t take much cooking and can just as easily take simple flavours as they can punchy ones. I love spice and citrus with smoked mackerel, and a proper old school cream sauce with haddock. My mum used to make a delicious Nigel Slater recipe with smoked haddock, bacon and tiny chipped potatoes. I fancied a similar dish this week, but with something fresh to eat alongside it.
British asparagus is in the shops so I decided on a raw, shaved asparagus salad dressed in plenty of lemon and mustard. The tangy dressing, the crunch of the asparagus and hum from some finely chopped red onion (you could use shallot, too) help the salty fish and smoky garlic cream along. You’ll need lemon wedges and something to mop it all up. A few new potatoes would be lovely, as would some bread – maybe soda or a good brown.