The Crooked Billet

Smoked Haddock Rarebit

Serves 4

Smoked Haddock RarebitSmoked Haddock Rarebit

The line of thought behind the starter being a cross between Welsh rarebit & Scotch egg – a little crispy fried ball of moist rarebity natural smoked haddock from Robsons of Craster in Northumberland (famous for their kippers). When cut into a perfect quails egg, runny yolk. Vivid, vibrant watercress coulis/paste – an explosion of fiery watercress on the tongue, The cress came from Ewelme near the Crooked Billet. I used beer in the egg wash.

For the fishcake:

960g smoked haddock, skinned & boned

100g mature cheddar, grated

2 tsp English mustard

Dash white wine vinegar

1 bunch spring onion

4 tomatoes

2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

100ml double cream

Blitz 320g haddock until it becomes a puree. Add 100ml cream & blitz until smooth. Set aside & refrigerate.

Place the mustard seeds into a small saucepan & cover with water. Add a dash of white wine vinegar for acidity & bring to the boil. Cool & set aside.

Trim, wash & finely slice the spring onion. Peel, deseed & dice the tomato & set aside.

Dice the remaining haddock into ½cm cubes & set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, place the blended & diced smoked haddock, sliced spring onions, diced tomatoes, grated cheddar, English mustard & the drained mustard seeds. Mix together well & adjust seasoning. Add more English mustard if required. Divide the mixture into 12 portions.


For the watercress coulis:

6 bunches watercress

Dijon mustard

Salt & pepper

Trim off the large stems. Cook in boiling salted water for approximately 1-2 minutes or until tender. Refresh in iced water. Drain & blitz until fine. To serve, whisk in some Dijon mustard & season to taste.


For the poached quails eggs:

12 quails eggs

50ml white wine vinegar

300ml cold water

Mix the water & vinegar together. Cut off the “fat” end of the egg with a sharp knife & pour the egg into water/vinegar liquid. You will see the white start to pull itself around the yolk. Leave for 10 minutes.

Put a small pan of water onto the stove & bring to the boil. Drain the eggs & poach for approximately 1 – 1½ minutes. Refresh in iced water & drain.


To make the final fishcake:

Lay out a piece of cling film, 30cm x 30cm & place a portion of the haddock mixture in the centre. Flatten this to the thickness of ½cm into a circle shape.

Place a quail’s egg in the centre. Pull the corners of the cling film up together, encasing the quail’s egg in mixture. Twist the ends of the cling film to form a tight ball. Refrigerate.


For the pane:

300g flour

4 eggs

300g Japanese breadcrumbs

100ml beer

Place the flour into a tray. Beat the eggs with the beer & place into a bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a separate tray. Unwrap the fishcake & roll in the flour, then in the egg/beer mix then in the breadcrumbs. Redip in the egg/beer mix & again into the breadcrumbs.

Deep-fry the fishcake at 180°C for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

I serve my haddock fishcakes with watercress coulis.