Versatile and yummy, smoked haddock is a dream in everything from fish pies and soups to salads, tarts and gratins. The smoking process lends the fish an aroma that complements and intensifies its mildly sweet flavour and, once cooked, the flakes are tender, delicious and delicately fishy. Smoked haddock also cooks very quickly so it’s ideal for pan frying and gentle poaching.
How to poach smoked haddock
Poaching smoked haddock, and indeed any other variety of fish, keeps it moist and tender. It’s an easy technique to master and a healthier alternative to frying.
To poach smoked haddock in water, place it in a pan with enough water to barely cover it, turn on the heat and allow it to come to the boil. Once bubbles appear on the surface, switch the hob off and let it finish cooking in the residual heat (for larger pieces of haddock you might need to leave the hob on a little longer). Then use the succulent cooked haddock as you please – flake it into a spicy kedgeree, mix into a fish chowder, perch it on a dressed potato salad, bake into a quiche or serve alongside an eggy breakfast.
To poach smoked haddock in milk, you might like to infuse the milk with onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, herbs or fresh garlic. Pop the fish in the pan along with the flavourings and allow the milk to simmer until the flakes are tender and cooked through. The fish and the aromatics will exchange flavours while they cook, creating a delicious poaching liquor that you can use to make a rich sauce or creamy fish soup, like cullen skink, so don’t discard it!
How to pan fry smoked haddock
Just as you would with any other variety of fish, fry your seasoned smoked haddock in a hot pan with a knob of butter and a swirl of oil to prevent the butter from burning. Haddock has a finer texture than firmer options like salmon and cod so it cooks at speed. Fry it skin side down until the edges begin to crisp (it will be about three quarters of the way cooked at this point) before gently flipping over for a final couple of minutes. To serve, pour over the butter from the pan and enjoy with potatoes, beans, roasted squash or anything else that takes your fancy.
How to bake smoked haddock in a bag
Place your haddock on a piece of greaseproof paper along with butter, lemon and seasonings. Then fold one side of the paper towards the other and pleat the edges together to create a little parcel before baking for 12-15 mins in a moderate oven. The steam generated in the belly of the bag will gently cook the fish so it remains juicy and tender inside. When you open up the parcel the fish will be succulent and surrounded by a smoky, buttery sauce that you can spoon over and savour.
How to simmer smoked haddock in a sauce
Add chunks of skinless smoked haddock to your favourite simmering sauce so they can soak up the flavour like delicious little sponges while they cook. Scrumptious sauce combinations include creme fraiche and chives, double cream and mustard, capers and tomatoes or gooey cheddar and chilli.