The Cottage Smallholder

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Craster Kippers

grilled craster kipperIt was years before I twigged that kippers are smoked herrings. I’ve never been keen on herrings but I’d attempt a cartwheel in return for a couple of kippers. It would have to be two kippers. When it comes to a kipper you just can’t share.

We have Craster Kippers for breakfast on a Sunday. This is the most relaxed breakfast of the week. Comparing notes over the newspapers and savouring every gram of flesh from our kippers. The dogs enjoy the skins.

Over the years we have tried many different kippers and consistently the Craster Kipper is rubber stamped as the tastiest kipper in the U.K.

In fact, a few weeks ago Danny announced that if I couldn’t buy Craster Kippers he would rather have muesli. This is chomped every other weekday, as it is good for his heart. So it’s Craster from now on.

The biggest company to cure fish in the UK is L. Robson and Sons. Based in Craster on the Northumberland coast, this family run business has been smoking fish for over a hundred years. They use the traditionally oak smoke method to cure herring, salmon, haddock and cod. They supply Waitrose and occasionally the Queen.

You can buy their smoked fish through their online shop. Unless you are buying in bulk, Waitrose prices are quite competitive compared to the online shop. A couple of kippers at W cost about two pounds.

The kipper season in the UK used to be from May to September. I can vaguely remember my Mother’s shriek of joy when they were back in the shops again. In the seventies, the government banned herring fishing in the North Sea due to depleted stocks. Many fish smoking businesses went to the wall but the Robson’s survived. They have expanded and now supply smoked fish all over the world. These days, kippers are available all year round as they are sourced from further afield.

Sometimes someone asks me how to cook the perfect kipper. Hot smoked kippers are already cooked so all you need to do is warm them through. The L. Robson site recommends the jug method. Fill a large jug with boiling water, and put the kipper in head first with the tail above the surface of the water. Leave for six minutes. We prefer to grill them (130c) for eight minutes, and serve them with hot buttered toast and a squeeze of lemon. Absolutely delicious.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Balders

    Your comment has inspired me to jug them although we love them grilled.

    A fresh mug of good tea is mandatory, I agree. Living with a coffee drinker he is just coming to terms with this (after ten years!).

    We’ve tried Arbroath Smokies – to die for. Just the once, they are hard to track down.

    Thanks for dropping by, much appreciated.

  2. balders

    I’m a kipper fan – a Craster for breakfast is a real treat and so inexpensive. My local Tesco fish-counter sold me a pair for £1.76 last week!
    I usually ‘jug’ them in boiling water to avoid the lingering kipper smells in the grill.
    Fresh (home cooked) bread and plenty of butter, black pepper and tea are mandatory accompaniments!
    If you get the chance try an Arbroath Smokie. I had them on holiday in Scotland and brought back a dozen vacuum packed – causing much mirth at Dundee International airport as my hand luggage (inc. smokies) went through the x-ray machine! Tradition dictates they are served with a poached egg.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi John

    I have never travelled to the Northumbria Coast. It must be wonderful if it is on a par with Craster kippers. They are the best. We generally eat them for breakfast on Sunday with a quarter lemon and warm buttered toast.

    The remains are a hit with the Min Pins and Great Aunt Daisy Beetle.

  4. Apart from discovering the fabulous Northumbria Coast this year, we had the added bonus of discovering Craster kippers.We had them every morning of our first week’s holiday!In fact, we liked them so much, we bought a dozen to take to the Lake District for the second week of our holiday.They are delicious!

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Dan,

    Next time we drop by for some of your delicious smoked duck breasts we’ll introduce ourselves.

    Hi Amanda,

    You can’t beat a decent kipper for Sunday brunch.

  6. Amanda

    Delicious! We hardly ever have them but enjoy them immensely when we do.

  7. Yes, I assumed we were near. If you ever pop in feel free to ask for me. But don’t be surprised to find me looking rather hot and bothered and covered in soot or tar 😉

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    That is good to know. I must study the list of superfoods on your blog.

    Hi Dan,

    I didn’t realise that not all kippers are cooked. Thanks for the tip. Your Smokery is just a few miles from where we live.

  9. Kippers are lovely. The best one I ever had was from Whitby (Fortune’s I think).

    Also, not all kippers are cooked as such. Specifically if they have been cold smoked.

  10. Joanna

    Yes, absolutely, a Craster kipper is the highlight of our week. I heat them through in the oven, which is very similar to grilling. I think that gives them more taste than jugging them. We have lemon on them if I remember, but no butter, as we don’t have it in our house.

    It’s not just the muesli that’s good for the heart, also kippers, as are all oily fish.

    Superfood doesn’t need to be expensive and unpronounceable!


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