Kippers (or, A Very Fishy Memory)

Kippers  (Image borrowed from

(Image borrowed from

My dad would fry kippers for breakfast some mornings. Imagine a wayward teenage girl with a big red and black smoked fish on their plate; that was me. Dad knew what he was doing; he knew how to keep me in line: Feed me a good breakfast.

He used to cook his kippers in butter until the doctor told him off about his high cholesterol, then he switched to olive oil.

Butter was best. It made the skin crispy and delicious. The meal would stink the house out, mind you. It would be supper before the smell of kipper dissipated. It lingered in a similar fashion in my body.

I ate kipper with thickly buttered white bread and tomato ketchup. You needed the bread to push down the bones. The tomato sauce and the cold butter acted as lubrication.

I’ve tried to recreate this experience, eating kippers that is, in New Zealand. I haven’t been successful. The smoked fish here doesn’t have the skin and bone for crunch. They’re a modified, sweetened version of a kipper.

One of my best kipper experiences was eating a fish in Scotland called an Arbroath Smokie. It earned this name because the small town where the fish are traditionally smoked is called Arbroath.

(Strictly speaking, it wasn’t a kipper. Kipper is Herring and an Arbroath Smokie is Haddock. )

I stayed at a local pub/hotel and had the fish for breakfast before a wedding. I was there with my then husband and two good friends, a lovely couple. The boys had gone to primary school with the groom before he’d moved to Scotland.

The bride was the groom’s first cousin. I’m not judging, but it is noteworthy. I didn’t realise that was legal. I recall a massive punch-up between the bride’s father and the groom’s father, who were also brothers. One of them disapproved apparently.

Anyway, the kippers, or smokies, were magic.

Now, all I have is a memory of a boney old fish, and, bizarrely, I miss it.


Today’s random memory has been brought to you by the letter K. For more information about the A to Z Challenge and participants, please click on the ‘K’ icon above. Thank you! Mwah X

13 thoughts on “Kippers (or, A Very Fishy Memory)

  1. Oddly enough, this does not make me want to try kippers. I can see how it might be a wonderful memory, but the part about using the bread to push the bones down left me uncomfortable. I guess they are an acquired taste. The story does make me think back to the few things my father used to cook and those are magical memories.

    • Hey Dan:-) I’m finding that I’m being a lot more playful in my writing of these Memory posts than usual, and I think I wanted the reader to be a bit uncomfortable then. ‘push down bones’ and ‘lubrication’ and all of that. I’m glad it made an oooh moment. There is something ugly and beautiful in those more ‘out there’ foods and whole smoked fish is one of those. You either love it or hate it. Like Marmite or offal or chicken skin. (I love all those too!)
      Thank you for stopping by again and commenting. You are being incredibly supportive and a I really value your comments. Thank you.

      • I enjoy reading your posts Becca. You handle lots of different types of writing, seemingly with ease. I do like chicken skin, but I might pass on the rest.

  2. You ate the bones? I’ve never heard of that before. I do like seafood, though, and one of my favorite things to grill is swordfish. Swordfish with mojito’s in the summer is magic to me. 🙂

    • Swordfish and Mojitos – Yum!
      As Liz Brownlee says, the bones of a kipper are fairly soft, though you are aware of them. A kipper is a food that makes me think of Winter.

      • I love foods that have a relationship other than taste. There are some foods that when the aroma wafts around me, I’m taken back to my grandmothers home as a child.

    • This whole challenge is bringing back memories for me. Am now constantly on the look out for kippers. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I look forward to checking out your blog now that you’ve found me.

    • True, but those bones can still tickle a bit. Now sardines – I need sardines on white toast now! I know what I’ll be picking up from the supermarket tomorrow. Thanks Liz!

  3. God Becca you are pressing all the buttons. My late father used to love kippers. He also loved a slimy fishy concoction call rollmops. I could forgive him one but not the other. 😏

  4. My husband loves kippers, and while I don’t mind them at all – I quite like them in fact, I just can’t stomach them for breakfast. I need sweet stuff for my breakfast – preferably sweet stuff that comes in the form of a croissant 😉 It’s been 21 years of living in the UK and I still haven’t managed to transition to savoury breakfasts!

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