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Top chef Stephanie Moon visits Fortune Kippers in Whitby

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 June 2017

Chef Stephanie Moon and Barry Brown inspect kippers fresh from the smokehouse

Chef Stephanie Moon and Barry Brown inspect kippers fresh from the smokehouse

Tony Bartholomew

Don’t forget to pick up some fresh kippers the next time you’re in Whitby.

Fortunes also smoke salmon, haddock and baconFortunes also smoke salmon, haddock and bacon

A steady stream of visitors and locals climbed Henrietta Street in Whitby to Fortunes a shack-like shop and smokehouse where some of the finest kippers on the Yorkshire coast are found. It was chef Stephanie Moon’s idea to explore the family business which is almost 150 years old. She wanted to show us just how versatile kippers are as an ingredient.

She brought everything with her just short of the kitchen sink and very soon a frying pan with rapeseed oil was heating on a portable stove and a large kipper was soon served on a plate just as you might have if for breakfast.

‘That’s the way I like it,’ said Barry Brown who runs Fortune’s with his brother Derek as he watched Steph serve up while keeping an eye on the shop as regulars called to pick up their orders. ‘I don’t like them fancy. I like them just like this. I can eat kippers until I am full.’

But chef had other ideas. It wasn’t long before she produced a club sandwich style lunch made with kippers and smoked salmon and salad; a healthier version of fish and chips and a delicious kipper pate.

Kippers club sandwich styleKippers club sandwich style

It wasn’t as if we weren’t convinced from the beginning but we pretended dissatisfaction to encourage chef to keep going with more of the same delicious examples of what is rarely seen these days in non-specialist food shops.

Fortune’s smokehouse and kipper shop can count itself as part of the fabric of Whitby, never moving from its original site since it opened in 1872, a business run today by the fifth generation of the family.

It’s the process of preparing kippers that fascinates visitors as they peer into the blackened smokehouse not sure what to expect and turn away marvelling at the rows of herring hanging from rods ready to be lifted out and moved into the shop for sale.

Barry explains: ‘Kippers are smoked herrings. Ours are delivered to us in prime condition because they are frozen immediately at sea.’ The fish are defrosted, split from head to tail, and gutted by hand, not by machine, adds Barry. The fish are then soaked in a brine solution for just under an hour. Then they are taken to the smokehouse where they are hung on rods to be cured allowing any excess moisture or oils to drain from the fish.

We watched Barry patiently light the fires using a mix of oak, beech and soft wood chips. It takes about three fires and 18 hours to complete the smoking process, he says closing the doors of the smokehouse.

Chef is not quite done. She’s packed away her mobile kitchen but isn’t ready to leave until she’s popped into the shop and bought what looks like a ton of kippers, some Fortune-smoked salmon and was that some of Fortune’s own kipper pate we saw her slip into her bag too, even though she had made her own? She’s a foodie through and through.

Find out more about Fortune’s kippers at fortuneskippers.co.uk

Barry Brown uses oak, beech and soft wood chips for smokingBarry Brown uses oak, beech and soft wood chips for smoking

Buy your kippers and try one of Steph Moon’s recipes

Healthy Fish and Chips

Healthy fish and chipsHealthy fish and chips

We are using Fortunes of Whitby smoked haddock which has a mind-blowing good flavour so needs minimal messing around with!

To cook the smoked fish

Fortunes of Whitby Smoked Haddock x 2 portions skin off

½ pint of milk

Simply place the portions of smoked haddock into a frying pan and heat gently covered in the milk cook of 2 minutes one side and 2 minutes the other and drain well before serving on the plate.

My tip: If you are making a fish pie, the smoked-haddock flavoured milk makes a great sauce when made into a béchamel.

To make the Chai Wedges

600g sweet potato peeled and cut into wedges

4 tbsp of milled mixed chai seed

3 tbsp of Yorkshire rapeseed oil

Place the wedges onto a tray and rub in the rapeseed oil.

Sprinkle with chai and salt and bake at 180c for 20 minutes turning once or until cooked and soft inside. Serve with a little sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.

To make Tartar Verde

2 tbsp of capers chopped

2 tbsp of gherkins

2 tbsp of shallots peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp of parsley

2 tbsp of Yorkshire rapeseed oil

Mix this together into a bowl and serve in a ramekin or small pot

To make Crushed Pea, Wasabi and Avocado Guacamole

150g fresh Yorkshire peas, podded and blanched in hot water then refresh in cold water. Crush gently with a potato masher when cold.

Add the flesh of a ripe avocado. Split avocado in half and remove the stone by gently tapping it with a knife until the knife takes the stone and you can twist it out. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and cut into cubes on a chopping board add the crushed fresh peas.

Add other ingredients:

2 cm of squeezed wasabi paste

1 tbsp of finely chopped shallot

1 tsp of chopped green chillies seeds removed

Mix all together with a squeeze of half a lemon and leave till required (this will go black if left too long)

To assemble the dish

Place a mound of crushed pea wasabi and avocado guacamole onto the plate. Place the smoked haddock next to it and then add a mound of chai wedges, spooning over any excess chai seeds from the tray. Add the small pot of tartar verde and serve – enjoy!

More from Food & Drink


So when are you going to write a book? It was a question that at first just made Martin and Jill Fish smile because they hadn’t given the idea much thought, if at all. ‘But so many people kept asking,’ says Martin, flicking through the newly published Gardening on the Menu, written with his wife Jill. His mind is already on volume two.

It was an obvious thing to do together. Martin is a professional horticulturalist, garden writer and broadcaster. Jill, a former infant teacher, is a cookery writer who loves to make the most of the fruit and vegetables they grow in their North Yorkshire garden.

Everything was at their green fingertips – Martin’s many years of writing about practical gardening and Jill’s cookery writing plus her collection of family recipes all quite naturally came together over one winter. ‘There were times when we did wonder what on earth we had taken on. It was quite intense but it was a case of just getting on with it,’ says Jill.

The 300-page book is a practical guide to more than 25 different fruits and vegetables Martin and Jill have enjoyed growing in their three quarter-acre garden and eating as a family over many years and still do today. Some are eaten fresh and others stored or preserved. Martin includes easy-to-follow advice with tips on getting the best from your crops and there are 100 recipes from Jill, including the toffee apple pie that launched her cookery writing career 10 years ago.

Ask Martin about growing organically and he will not lecture. ‘I would never tell anyone what to do. I will only pass on what I know works really well.’ He uses as few chemicals as possible and his growing tips throughout the book reflect good practice and common sense that help to keep soil and plants healthy.

Gardening expert Carol Klein explains what makes Gardening on the Menu different to every other grow and eat guide. In the book’s foreword she writes: ‘Good gardening and good cooking should not be slaves to fashion, they rise above trendiness and though Martin and Jill’s book is bang up to date, the quality of their knowledge and their ability to transmit it will be relevant indefinitely. You’ll read these pages and think just as I have: “Thanks Martin. That’s a better way to do that. I’m going to do it like that in future…and thanks Jill. I can’t wait to taste that!”’

There’s a chance to visit Thornycroft, the Fish family garden on July 23rd when it is open to the public from 11am-4pm as part of the National Open Garden Scheme. Martin will be there to answer your gardening questions. Other visits by appointment can be made too. Visit martinfish.com for more information.

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