Chilled watermelon, of course, is perfect beach food. And I’ve always liked the egg-salad sandwiches from my childhood. But yesterday a friend pulled something out of the cooler that was even more brilliant: a tin of kippers! He popped off the top (no need for a can opener) and enjoyed this overlooked delicacy as the waves broke and the sun shined. What exactly are kippers, you ask (as did I). Well, Minard told me, they are smoked herring filets packed in oil. He offered me a bite.
Delicious! The taste brought back a memory of eating canned sardines on a little boat off Ibiza in the Mediterranean. (Which made me think of the just-caught sea urchins, crackers and cold Pescador wine that rounded out the meal.)
I’m hooked on kippers. They’re my new go-to food! And, of course, we know how healthy these little fish are (lots of Omega 3s!). You can find them at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s or even on Amazon. They’re often labeled “kipper snacks.” Isn’t that adorable? Amazon has a wide selection and even offers whole kippered herring that you can throw on the grill.
Kipper means to cure fish by splitting it open then salting and drying it in the open air or in smoke. Here’s a video of the process, if you’re really interested. Jewish delis offer fresh kippered salmon or whitefish, but I don’t recall seeing much kippered herring. Kippers (the herring sort) were big in England for centuries, then fell out of favor as they became known as a cheap war food. The Savoy Hotel, however, has kept them on its breakfast menu since the hotel opened in 1889. And now, from what I read in an article in The Guardian, they’re enjoying a comeback throughout London. Fergus Henderson, chef at St. John restaurant in London and author of The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating cookbook, is quoted in another article as saying: “There’s nothing finer, especially when washed down with a glass of Black Velvet.” (Black Velvet is a cocktail made by filling half a flute with Guinness then topping it off with Champagne.)
This new-found treat has made me think back to other tinned foods I’ve loved and forgotten about. I went through a happy phase of eating foie de morue (cod liver!) on toast at one point. And smoked oysters were also a thing for a while.
Kippers are great beach food, for sure, but now that I think of it, kipper snacks, cod liver on toast and tooth picked-smoked oysters could make for a nice apéritif! We’ll serve Black Velvets and maybe some Pescador wine. Will we see you in the garden?