Arbroath smokie, asparagus, and Anster tart
Although originating in Auchmithie, a small fishing village a little further up the coast, the town of Arbroath has become synonymous with the ‘smokie’. Tied in pairs, salted, then cooked on sticks over wood, the Arbroath smokie has a very distinctive look and flavour. A little further north of Arbroath and Auchmithie lies Myreside Farm, home to Fresh Food Express, and several hectares of prime Scottish asparagus growing land. I left the Angus coast last weekend laden with smoked fish from M & M Smith, and a large bunch of the flavour packed spears.
Hot smoked haddock, and freshly picked asparagus are a perfect marriage of opposites, sweet, briny, and intense fish, offset by the very fresh, slightly earthy flavour of the quintessential spring vegetable. To pull them together I used Anster cheese, a creamy unpasteurised cows milk cheese from Fife. This is a perfect marriage of this wonderful corner of Scotland, which is separated by the Tay estuary, and bound by the North Sea. I used Yorkshire pudding trays to form the tarts.
375g puff pastry
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 Arbroath smokie – skinned, and meat removed from the bones
6-8 springs asparagus roughly sliced
150g Anster cheese (or another hard cheese like cheddar or pecorino romano)
Black pepper – optional
Heat the oven to 160C. Roll out the pastry, place on the pudding trays, and cut round the moulds. Equally divide the asparagus and fish between each.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs and creme fraiche together until a homogenous mixture is formed. Grate in the cheese and mix again.
Pour the mixture evenly over the fish and asparagus in each mould. It shouldn’t quite reach the top.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden brown, the egg may have risen a little. Serve with a seasonal green salad.
As a fresher variation use cut herbs such as chives, chive flowers, orange thyme, dill, and sorrel in place of the smoked fish.