Breakfast in America: Kippers

Could we have kippers for breakfast,
Mummy dear, mummy dear?
I hear they have ‘em in Texas,
Cos everyone’s a millionaire.

For years I remained ignorant of kippers. If you had asked me, I would have been able to say they were some sort of fish featured in the Supertramp album* and P.G. Wodehouse novels. But, then Mr. Artifact ordered a case of kippers in brine, as he was endeavoring to amp up our Omega 3 consumption.

Aside from being very nutritious and tasty, it turns out that kippers—especially the canned ones—play a vital role in detective fiction. But, let’s rewind a ways to explain this link. Kippers are kippered herring, the kippering process referring to smoked herring. In the UK, particularly England, kippered herring are sold smoked and dry-ish. They are then prepared in reputable English manors for breakfast and served in silver chaffing dishes (according to my Downton Abbey view of the world). But, if you can’t get these smoked from your local fish monger, you are left to buy them canned (or as the British would say, tinned). I have never had a locally sourced kipper, so I can only report on the canned. Cut to the chase: they are lovely.

Well, Egads, what the heh about the detective fiction?

It turns out that canned, smoked kippered herring are a bit reddish in hue. If one were to arrange a fox hunt and then desire to lead the hounds astray, one might drag a canned (reddish) herring across the course to distract the hounds. Thus, the device of the red herring in detective novels (or any other pursuits for that matter) serves to distract the protagonist and cause pursuit in a wrong direction.

So, possessed with a case of kippered herring and needing to make breakfast, I channeled my own English breakfast heritage (40%) and delivered what I think is a reasonable facsimile of a traditional English breakfast. Yes, yes, I know I did not have any blood sausage. Next time.

Serves 2

1 tomato, halved and de-seeded
2 large mushrooms, cut into thirds
2 slices of a large, sweet onion
1 tin (75 g or 2.6 oz) of kippered herring in brine
5-6 T butter

2 C fresh spinach
1 t balsamic vinegar

¼ C homemade mayonnaise
2 T Dijon mustard
1 t curry powder
Salt and pepper


Heat oven to 250 F.
Add salt and pepper to the veggies. Sauté onion, mushroom and tomato halves in a saucepan with 2 T butter. Put on a tray and into the oven at 250F for 10 minutes or until the rest is done.
Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining mayonnaise, mustard and curry. in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a covered saucepan, steam spinach in 1 T butter and 1 t balsamic for 2 minutes. Cover and set aside.
While that is happening, cook eggs in 2-3 T butter for 1 minute.
Add kippers to the eggs in the saucepan and cover for 1 minute or until eggs are done to your liking.
Serve on plates and add the sauce on the side.

Enjoy! (Do you want my autograph?)

Stay briny,


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