Fish Kiev: A delicious modern twist on an old favourite

JP McMahon: The wild garlic is out already, and this is a deeply satisfying way to use it

In the past year chefs Niall Sabongi and Tom Brown have both published recipes for fish Kievs. Photograph: iStock

In the past year chefs Niall Sabongi and Tom Brown have both published recipes for fish Kievs. Photograph: iStock

 

I do not know how chicken Kiev, which fell out of fashion many years ago, morphed into the now extremely fashionable fish Kiev. At some point in the history of food, a certain elaborate Franco-Russian chicken dish was reduced to being stuffed with herb butter. Perhaps it was in its emigration to the US, somewhere around 1930s, that “Kiev-style” began to denote “stuffed with butter”.

A recipe for “chicken cutlet à la Kiev” was published in the New York Times in 1946. But fish Kiev seems to be a relatively recent invention. I couldn’t find an earlier reference than the late 1990s for salmon Kiev, which seems to have been popular in Australia. In the past year chefs from Ireland and England, most notably Niall Sabongi and Tom Brown, have both published recipes for fish Kievs. I love to use wild green herbs when making Kiev. The recipe below uses wild garlic, but you can use any green herbs you can get your hands on.

How to make hake Kiev with wild garlic butter

Place 250g of soft butter and 25g of wild garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth. Butterfly four hake fillets (slice them open horizontally, like a book) and place some butter into each opening. Lightly season the hake fillet and then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for two to three hours.

Place some flour; egg and buttermilk; and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Season all with a little sea salt. Roll the hake fillets in the four, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs. Ensure the hake is completely covered with the breadcrumbs so the butter will not leak out. If desired, you can double-breadcrumb them by dipping them back into the egg mixture and then back into the breadcrumbs again.

Heat a deep fat fryer to 170 degrees and your oven to 200 degrees. Fry each fillet for three to four minutes, until brown and crisp and cooked through. You may need to fry two at a time, so use the oven to keep them warm.

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