Smoked haddock rarebit

by Ed Smith

Smoky fish, savoury cheese, glossy béchamel sauce and a touch of mustard

For more on mustard, read the latest installment of Ed’s column on store cupboard staples


300g undyed smoked haddock fillet
350ml whole milk
30g butter
30g plain flour
40g mature farmhouse cheddar, gruyere or comté, grated
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
2 slices of sourdough, cut 2-3cm thick


Put the haddock in a saucepan and cover with the milk. It might pay to cut the fish in half to fit it in a saucepan in which the milk will come up to at least two thirds the depth of the fish. Bring to a gentle simmer, cook for 2 mins then turn the heat off and leave for a further 5 mins. Remove the haddock, peel away the skin (if attached), and separate the flesh into fairly large flakes. Reserve the warm milk.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the flour, stirring and cooking for 3 mins until the ‘roux’ is slick and golden. Add the warm milk a ladle at a time, stirring to incorporate the liquid completely before adding the next. Simmer gently for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is like a thick custard. Add the cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 mins before beating in the egg yolks and gently mixing the haddock through the sauce. Toast your bread until well browned. Turn on the grill.

Top the toast generously with the rarebit and grill until golden. Splash with extra Worcestershire sauce if you wish. This is good on its own, or embellished with well-cooked or confit tomatoes.

Recipe and image: Ed Smith