When I was at primary school in the 1980s, my mum was our school secretary. This had some definite disadvantages for my brother and I: we had to sit in the library for an hour after our friends had gone home every day while we waited for her to finish work, every time we got in trouble with a teacher, she knew about it straight away, resulting in an instant second bollocking for us, and – worst of all – she used to get meal ideas from the school cook. We not only had to suffer school dinners at school, we had them at home too. Feel my childhood pain.
Savoury Mince Crumble was one of her favourite school dinners to recreate (bleughhh). Cheese Aigrettes were another speciality (these are essentially big balls of lard covered in breadcrumbs). But the meal which never failed to send my brother and I into competitive, twitching retching fits on the floor was Fish Flan.
If my memory serves me correctly, Fish Flan used to stink like a slightly sulphurous seabed while it was cooking and tasted exactly as though something had crawled into a quiche and died. Tastes change though, right? So, for my debut Kitchen Bitching post, I decided to recreate it in all its glory to see if it was really as bad as I remembered. I emailed my mum and asked her for the recipe. “Huh, I knew you liked it really,” she replied. No Mother, I just want to mock it on the internet. Transcript of the recipe coming up, my notes in italics.:
6oz plain flour
1.5 tbs water
(the above should be used to make pastry) – No shit, Sherlock. If anyone can make anything different out of those 3 ingredients, please let me know.
1 small onion
1 tin of tuna
quarter of a pint of milk
salt and pepper
Make pastry, line flan dish (I eventually located a flan dish at the bottom of the cupboard. It almost certainly doesn’t belong to me. Mysterious) and bake blind at 190 degrees for 10-15 mins.
Well, this presents a problem. To blind bake something you’re supposed to use those special ceramic bean things or dried pulses. I have neither. If any PRs want to send me some ceramic blind baking beans to review, do feel free. Or a potato masher – we haven’t got one of those either *looks around hopefully*. So, I had to use uncooked rice and hope for the best.
Finely chop onion and flake tuna (I think ‘flake tuna’ means ‘empty it out of the tin’)
Whisk eggs and milk together and add seasoning
Yuck, one of my eggs had those little blobs in it. What is that? An embryo or a chicken period or something? Scraped it out with a spoon so as not to vom everywhere.
When case is ready, put onion and tuna in and pour egg mixture over the top.
Cook for 30-40 mins.
Decorate with a cucumber.
I jest. Here is what it really looked like when I served it up. If I was going for the full 80s experience, I should have served it with boiled potatoes and frozen green beans, but I don’t hate my family, so I didn’t.
You know what? It really didn’t taste that bad. In fact, I will go as far as to say that it was quite pleasant really. It could actually be made very tasty indeed by substituting salmon for the tuna and adding some chopped dill, but as a quick, easy week night dinner, it was completely acceptable. Apart from the bits of uncooked rice that I couldn’t quite hook out after blind baking the pastry – they didn’t taste so good.
I felt guilty. I’d complained and bitched about Fish Flan for years and refused to eat more than two mouthfuls of it every time it was served throughout my childhood, and here it was proving itself to be tasty and misunderstood. For that reason, I almost did a victory dance when my three year old son informed me that it tasted “of bums” and that he would die if he ate any of it. Phew. Vindicated.
Fish Flan: Acceptable for adults, hell on a plate for the under 18s.