I am incapable these days of passing up the opportunity to buy something new to me when I’m food shopping. About the only spontaneity I go for is impulse shopping with groceries. This is one of the perks of shopping locally and seasonally where this style of shopping rarely results in coming home with seventeen sorts of biscuits and a bigger bill, but a bag of economical cooking challenges.This week’s why not moment was when I called in at the fishmongers and saw these plump pink roes.
I’d recently rediscovered the joys of taramasalata which I thought was both delicious and glamourous back in the 80s when it adorned every dip selection going, but as my little girl love of pink things waned, I lost my taste for it despite loving those intensely savoury umami flavours it offers. But a few weeks ago, a dish of it came alongside some pitta bread I’d ordered for a light lunch and I fell in love with it all over again.
These haddock roes aren’t smoked like the tarama (or bottarga) of the Mediterranean but I thought they might have the same creaminess at least. A generous 300g portion set me back £1.50 and it didn’t seem to matter that I had no idea how to cook them. (I really must remember to ask the fishmonger these things in future!) A quick Google suggested poaching them and then blending into a pasta sauce, but I wanted something more reminiscent of the picnic style family lunches of my childhood so I made a pate style dip instead.
Haddock Roe Pate: serves 2 greedily or 4 with some decorum
- 300g haddock roes
- 250ml water
- 1 tablespoon dry white vermouth
- knob of butter
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 smoked paprika
First poach your roes in the 250ml of water. I salted mine with a pinch of smoked Maldon sea salt, bringing the water to the boil and then poach gently for about 10 minutes. Take them out of the water and allow to cool slightly.
Pop in a hand blender with the vermouth, anchovy paste, butter and spices and blitz for about 1 minute. Then lift the lid to reveal a very chic pale pink creamy pate that should be soft enough to scoop. I put mine in a ramekin, gave it a wee squirt of lemon and then served it heaped generously on some toasted crusty bread for a lunch, but it would make an equally good pre drinks dip.
Much milder than taramasalata but packed with a delicate fishy flavour that exudes pure luxury, this was such a good lunch that it completely cheered me up after finding out my fridge freezer had died earlier and needed completely replaced. I couldn’t believe it was cheaper than even doing a basic smoked mackerel pate as it tasted like something Hawksmoor might serve you on a starched tablecloth with melba toast on the side for high tea. If you find haddock roes I very much recommend giving yourself an inexpensive and delicious treat. Just try and get them from a fishmonger who these days are more endangered than the haddock itself…