A traditional Anglo-Indian breakfast of smoked fish, eggs and rice, modernised here with risotto cakes, spinach, and chip-shop (or katsu-style) curry sauce. The end result is worth the time and effort, but use leftover risotto to speed it up. Really, its all about that sauce.
Cooking time: 2 hours (or half an hour, with 1.5 hours prep the day before)
2 150 g smoked haddock loin fillets
2 good-quality eggs
200 g spinach
1/8 of a nutmeg seed, finely grated
1 tbsp white wine vinegar (plus more for the eggs)
2 tbsp salted butter
For the curry sauce
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 one-inch piece of ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp plain flour
500 ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
For the risotto cakes
50 g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
50 g breadcrumbs
Enough left over risotto for two people or:
100 g arborio rice
2 tbsp salted butter
250 ml vegetable stock
2 tsp rice vinegar
Olive oil, salt & black pepper
Steps 1 and 2 can be done the day before, with the risotto and curry sauce left in the fridge.
- If making the risotto from scratch (not using leftovers), start there. Melt 2 tbsp of salted butter in a wide pan over a low heat, and add the rice. Stir well and, after about 5 minutes, add a ladle of the vegetable stock. Keep stirring gently, massaging the flavour and texture into the rice, until its absorbed all of the liquid. Repeat this process of ladling, stirring, absorbing until all the stock has gone, tasting the rice frequently at the end to ensure its cooked al dente. It should take about 15 minutes. Once done, remove from the heat, add the rice vinegar, stir well, and then spread out on a tray or a plate to cool. This can be left overnight in the fridge, if desired.
- Make the sauce. Begin by softening the onion and carrot over a low heat with plenty of olive oil. After 5 minutes, add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and flour, and stir well. Be sure not to burn the garlic. Fry gently for another 5 minutes until the carrots have softened and the flavours have cooked into the oil, then slowly add the stock, stirring to avoid lumps. Add the honey and soy sauce, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the sauce up. Transfer the whole lot to a blender, and blitz until smooth. Once cooled, this can also go in the fridge, if you like.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Drizzle the fish fillets with oil, salt and pepper, and top each with 1 tbsp of butter, then place on a papered baking tray on the ovens top shelf for 20 minutes. When the fish is in, set a large pan of water to boil, ready for the eggs later, and set the curry sauce in a separate pan over a very low heat to warm through.
- Prepare the risotto cakes. Take your cooled risotto and form it into two inch-thick patties. Take three plates or trays and cover one with the plain flour (and a little salt and pepper, too), one with the beaten egg, and the third with the breadcrumbs. Take each patty in turn and coat each flat side in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. When the fish has been in the oven for about 10 minutes, fry the cakes in olive oil for 5 minutes each side, until the outside is crisp and golden brown. Stir the curry sauce.
- After youve turned the cakes, you can drop your eggs into the now-boiling water to poach. Theres a lot of different advice on poaching eggs, so go with what works for you if unsure, try adding a splash of white wine vinegar to the water to keep the whites together. Whatever your method, theyll need about 4 minutes to cook.
- At this point, theres a lot going on the fish is in the oven, the risotto cakes are frying, the eggs are poaching, and the curry sauce should be just about warmed through. All thats left is the spinach wilt it for a few minutes in a hot pan with some salt, pepper, olive oil, the nutmeg and a tbsp of white wine vinegar.
- Everything should come together at about the same time. Plate up the spinach first, then top with the risotto cakes, the fish, and finally the poached eggs. Ladle a good helping of the curry sauce over the top, and enjoy!
In the last few stages, theres a lot going on, but try not to panic. If youre worried about anything being overdone, just remove it from the heat. Nothing will go cold too quickly; all of the elements will stay warm for a few minutes while you finish off the others. My advice is to watch the fish and be strict with the egg timing the risotto and the spinach are a little more forgiving, and the sauce will be fine so long as you stir it periodically.
This recipe was inspired by a similar dish served at Hallowed Belly in Earlsfield, London. The risotto Ive made is as plain as can be, but its a great vessel for the other strong flavours going on in this dish. Try using your risotto leftovers and see what you think!