rice pilaf with arbroath smokies
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I have sung the praise of Arbroath smokies previously, the whole small haddock fish smoked in Scotland over smoking pits. If you can’t get it where you live, don’t lose heart: any other flaky smoked fish will do too in this dish.
Pilaf is the way of cooking rice initially in a little hot oil before it is boiled in stock or plain water. I honestly can’t say what it does to the rice – I’m far from a rice expert – but I do like the approach. Everything always tastes better when it’s seared, browned, fried or scorched before being dunked in water.
This is a cross between a pilaf, a kedgeree and a ‘rice with things’ kind of dish. I added the dried fruit for the whiff of Middle Eastern flavours, cayenne and peppercorns to de-bland rice and dill, frankly, for the colour. It works really well; incredible how smoked fish teams up with sweetish flavours. But it is a definitely a play by ear kind of recipe – adapt it to what you fancy and what is there in your fridge.
rice pilaf with arbroath smokiesServings: 2Time: about 45 minutes
- For the pilaf:
- 200g (1 heaping cup) white long grain rice
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 300g (1¼ cup) vegetable or fish stock
- a pinch of saffron, ground in pestle and mortar
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- a pinch of cayenne
- For the smoked fish mix:
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 large white onion, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp. dried cranberries (or barberries if available)
- 2 tbsp. golden sultanas
- 2 tbsp. flaked almonds
- ½ bunch of dill, finely chopped
- 1 Arbroath smokie
1. Rinse the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Drain and shake off the moisture.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the saffron to the stock and bring it to a simmer in a separate pan. Taste for saltiness; it needs to be quite salty as the rice will draw the seasoning from it.
3. Add the rice to the oil and cook it over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring, until it is well coated in oil and starts to colour in places.
4. Pour in the hot stock, add the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, bay and cayenne, give it a stir and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, then turn it down to minimum and set a timer for 15 minutes. Don’t take the lid off while the rice is cooking.
5. When the rice has been cooking for 15 minutes, take it off the hob and place on a wet dish cloth for 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid.
6. While the rice is cooking and/or resting, melt the butter in another pan and add the sliced onions. Cook them for 10 minutes until soft. Add the cranberries, sultanas and almonds and cook gently, stirring once or twice, for another couple of minutes.
7. Pull the skin off the smokie and flake it into chunks. Take care to remove the bones though it’s hard to pick them all out so be careful when eating too. Add the fish to the onion mix and stir gently in.
8. Take the lid off the rice and fluff it up with a fork. If there’s still some liquid in it, cover it with a clean tea towel weighted by the lid for a couple of minutes so it steams off.
9. Stir most of the dill into the rice. Add the fish and onion mix and toss it gently together. Finish with the remaining dill and serve with a green salad.