Kippers and Scungilli – Two Delicious Seafood Sensations

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While looking for new and delicious seafood snacks to try, you can really let your feet, mind, and eyes wander when you step into our little Old Saybrook, CT seafood market. This is especially true when you browse among our specialty seafood. You may already have a favorite that you’re drawn to, or you may be feeling adventurous and feel like diving into uncharted waters for a new snack or meal. If that’s the case, we suggest you try out some kippers and our famous scungilli salad.

We’ll get the ball rolling by talking a little bit about kippers. A kipper is another term for a herring that has been sliced in half lengthwise (though the halves are not separated) and gutted. They are typically salted for preservation purposes and subsequently smoked to perfection through the use of wood chips. Oak is generally the wood of choice, but other grilling woods such as hickory, cedar, and maple may be used.

Tasty smoked kippers

Tasty smoked kippers – image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Being an oily fish, kippers are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Yes, we know we talk about those all the time, but they’re just that important. Trust us on this one. Despite their rather diminutive size, kippers pack a powerful protein punch. They’re also a great source of Vitamin B12, with one medium serving providing more than a full day’s supply of this nutrient. Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin and is essential to providing the human body with strength and energy. It also improves the functioning of the nervous system.

Kippers are a very flexible fish which go well with nearly any other dish you can think up. They’re also flexible in regard to what time of the day at which they can be eaten. Depending on the location of where they are served, they can be part of an eye-opening breakfast, strength-building lunch, filling dinner, or on their own as a quick pick-me-up snack in between meals.

There is some controversy as to how kippers ended up with their name. In the UK, they claim that the term evolved from the Old English word “kippian”, which is an alternate word for the verb “spawn”. Icelandic people contend that the name comes from their word “kippa”, which means to pull or to snap1. Germans meanwhile assert that the word kipper comes from their word “kippen”, which means tilt or incline1. The fact that so many different nations try to lay claim to naming this fish is sufficient proof of their popularity worldwide. They’ve also made appearances in popular culture, with a notable example being a reference made by Canadian country music star Stompin’ Tom Connors in his song “The Moon Man Newfie”.

There are several different ways in which one can serve and enjoy kippers. Some companies simply can them along with oil. These are called Kipper Snacks and you’ve most likely seen them at some point in the canned meat section of your local grocery store. Other people like to eat them on their own after smoking and still others prefer to fry them and eat them with a fried egg perched on top. In some countries, sliced kippers are a popular addition to rice and pasta. We’ll share a traditional English recipe for kippers with you later on in this article.

Now it’s time to move on to scungilli. Scungilli is a popular dish among Italians and many Italian-Americans who like to serve it up on Christmas Eve for the Feast of Seven Fishes. It’s quite delicious and is packed with health-boosting nutrients, but some people balk at eating it when they learn exactly what it is made out of. You see, scungilli is primarily composed of the flesh of whelk. Never heard of a whelk? Essentially, it’s just a large sea snail. Now you know why scungilli is not a hit among the informed squeamish.

Freshly caught whelk shells

Freshly caught whelk shells – image courtesy of Almostitalian.com

Despite what some may consider to be an unappetizing food source, whelk is highly enjoyable and has a very pleasing oceanic flavor, not entirely unlike that of squid or cuttlefish. It features a firm and chewy texture that may remind some experienced seafood eaters of the texture of octopus meat.

Scungili can be served in many different ways. However, the most popular methods of preparation involve use in marinara sauces or in scungilli salad. The latter of these presentations is what you’ll find when you visit us at Atlantic Seafood Market. A scungilli salad will usually have a satisfyingly sweet and salty taste to it. Common ingredients are salt, pepper, garlic, onions, olive oil, vinegar, and lemons.

Before they’re ready to be prepared for consumption, a rather lengthy cleaning and cutting process is required. Usually, this will begin with placing the shells in a large pot and then boiling them for around ten minutes. After this, a cooling period is needed after which one must gently pry open the operculum of the shell. The operculum is a hard and rounded protection device of sorts which closes down over the entrance of the shell2.

Once the shell is open, the flesh is then gently extracted. when the meat has been freed, the darkest part of the coil is discarded, as this is the whelk’s digestive tract and is not really prime eating material. The remaining part of the flesh is then usually diced up with a knife. If you plan to use the meat for a sauce, then you’ll want to mince it up more finely. If you’re making a scungilli salad, you generally will let your pieces remain slightly larger. Some soaking for tenderizing purposes is usually undertaken and once this has been done, you’re finally ready to begin crafting your culinary masterpiece.

This is the black portion of a whelk's flesh that you'll want to remove

This is the black portion of a whelk’s flesh that you’ll want to remove – Image courtesy of AlmostItalian.com

When you eat scungili, or anything else made from whelk, you’ll be treated to a massive dose of protein. You’ll also get nearly 50% of your daily suggested intake of iron from a moderately sized portion. You could say that this is the true definition of a power lunch.

As promised, we have a kipper recipe for you. This one is an English classic called Kipper Kedegree and comes to you courtesy of the official website of the BBC.

Kipper Kedegree

Ingredients: 1 3/4 oz of butter, 7 oz of frozen peas, 4 eggs, 5 1/2 oz of kippers, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 tsp of curry powder, 10 oz of rice, salt and pepper to taste and 18 fl oz of vegetable stock3.

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a frying pan and then add in the chopped onion and some salt. Fry for about 6 minutes or until the onion pieces become soft. Next, add in the curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes, occasionally stirring.

2. Add in the rice and vegetable stock and continue to stir. Add in a bit more salt and pepper and allow the mixture to simmer. Change the heat to the lowest setting and cook for another 12 minutes.

3. While above is being cooked, hard boil the eggs in a pot or pan of boiling water. When they are done and have sufficiently cooled, shuck them and cut them into four lengthwise pieces.

4. Put the kippers in water in a large pan and allow them to cook for five minutes. Remove the kippers and separate out the bones and discard them.

5. Put the kipper meat and (defrosted) frozen peas in with the rice mixture. Stir together and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add any more desired salt and pepper to the mix and then serve on a plate and place the egg slices on top3.

Kipper Kedegree served and ready to eat

Kipper Kedegree served and ready to eat – image courtesy of DeliciousMagazine.co.uk

Works Cited

1. Author Unavailable
Kipper
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kipper

2. Lombardi, Skip
Scungilli
http://www.almostitalian.com/scungilli

3. Stein, Rick
Kipper Kedegree
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/kipper_kedegree_26508

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