The Scottish name, “Finnan Hadie” has come down through the years from from “Findon haddock.” The origin can be traced backwards many centuries to a time when there was an absolute glut of haddock in the small Aberdeen fishing village of Findon (pronounced as “Finnan” locally, hence the name of the dish).
Out of necessity-and an abhorrence to wasting good food so laboriously obtained by their menfolk-the women of Findon tested ways to keep the fish edible longer. They finally created a process of smoking the fish over hardwood fires that successfully dried the haddock and preserved it.
Their smoking process-using hardwoods indigenous to their region of Scotland-gave the fish a lighter and tangier taste than the heavily smoked fish made in London. With the advent of trains, Londoners soon discovered the quality of Findon’s fish. Not long after that discovery all of England clamored for the smoked haddock from the little village in Aberdeen Scotland.
Finnan Hadie is truly an ancient Scottish tradition; it’s a plump, rich haddock, netted in the cold seas off the shores of Scotland, and then tenderly smoked with a blend of natural hardwoods. The end result is a moist fish with subtle, complex flavors and a pleasing texture that really does “melt in your mouth.”
2 lb. smoked haddock
1 very large onion, sliced
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter cut into small pieces
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
Place the haddock and onion in a medium-sized saucepan and add just enough of the milk to barely cover the fish. Then add in the pepper and dots of butter.
Over moderate heat bring the milk slowly to a boil. Before the milk foams up, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. When it’s done the fish should easily flake.
Remove the pan and using a large slotted spoon transfer the fish and onions to a large platter. Spoon a little of the cooking liquid over the fish, and then sprinkle it with the chopped green onion, the parsley and serve immediately.
Of all the people in the world, the Brits (Scots especially) love smoked haddock as part of their breakfast mainstay. They often combine it with egg dishes such as scrambled Kedgeree or Omelet Arnold Bennett. Toast, creamy Jersey butter and hot tea serve as a healthy way to begin a new day.