More and more I’m realising just how many similarities there are between our (our?) British food, especially Scottish, and our (our?) Russian food.
It’s the ingredients that make me think that in particular. Isn’t it right that the European part of Russia (including my home country of Estonia) is the same longitude as northern Britain? And so we have plentiful root vegetables, we lean on stews; our fruit (say apples), berries (say cranberries) and grains (barley) like cooler temperatures.
Pickling, curing, preserving wild foods are all there, although these traditions now seem quite derelict in case of the British isles (and hip at the same in case, as the trend for all ‘forgotten’ doesn’t fail to remind us). In Tsarist Russia and Soviet Union however most ordinary folk had to rely on foraging for what’s available across the massive expanse of wild woods and then preserving food with whatever methods they could lay their hands on.
I can never stop my half smiling emerging thinking just how necessity could become a chic commodity…
Herring is an example of the food that’s straining to make this switch from odd to fashionable. Plentiful around the British islands, it is also abundant in Eastern Europe, especially the northern, Baltic side.
Herring is also amongst few products that most of us ‘Eastern European migrants’ seek in shops when arriving in London. Despite supermarkets doing quite a job in trying to catch up with the ‘ethnic’ demands – Polish gherkins, sauerkraut and (bizarrely) Vegeta stock cubes are available at your nearest store.
But herring is still quite elusive. Yes, there are those roll mops, even Scottish ones, but a roll mop is a lot more vinegary than the marinated herring we, Russkis, are used to back home. And so we head to our local ‘Lithuanian’ (Latvia, Russian, Polish) where there is always a reliable stock of marinated herring – which is a lot milder and sweeter than the mops. I believe the curing process is actually quite similar but the fish is then stored in oil which makes it so much more mallow.
This time I have decided to take this humble fish and my recent quest for making dainty, funky foods to another level.
Please welcome my:
Herring Scotch egg.
I loooove Scotch eggs.
Felicity Cloake recently announced that these layered, deep fried delights are amongst the ‘most’ patriotic’ in these lands.
Indeed, they are bulldog like robust, honest somehow, no fuss but plenty of runny irony.
Scotch eggs are also great for adapting to making with different ingredients – mince sausage meat being the norm of course – hence are frugal. Frugal being a word a la mode 2012.
So here I’m presenting my first attempt at making my version of Scotch eggs made with cured herring. I will be working on improvements and reporting diligently of course.
You will need:
makes 5-6 eggs.
5-6 hen eggs (look for smaller eggs, look prettier)
for the casing:
100 gr marinated herring (I’ve used Scottish roll mops on this occassion and the result was too vinegary, am reverting to the wilder marinated version, or I suppose you can soak the mops in milk for some 8 hours)
100 gr cooked potatoes
1-2 ts of Dijon mustard
2 tbs chopped parsley and dill
a squeeze of lemon
black pepper (but may not need salt, check before adding as fish is salted already)
for the outer layer:
a couple of tbs of seasoned flour, add a sprinkling of paprika too
1 egg, mixed
about 6 tbs of breadcrumbs
1. Put the eggs in cold water, bring to boil, switch down to simmering and take off the heat after 5 minutes. This definitely results in a yolk that’s just a tad runny but white being all set. Cool in cold water for 10-20 minutes.
2. Use a mixer to mince all the ingredients for the casing. The mixture will be quite thick, easy to work with, add more potatoes or a bit of breadcrumbs if unsure (but not too much!).
3. Once the eggs have cooled, take about 2 tbs of the casing mixture into one palm, make it flat a bit, roll around the egg to ensure the egg is completely covered.
There is no magic way of doing this job. I’ve tried the method Felicity suggested (with the clingfilm, flour etc) but actually found doing it with my own hands a lot easier. The layer is I’d say about 3/4 cm.
4. Then for the final layer. Roll the egg in the flour lightly, then an egg and then the breadcrumbs. Re-shape if necessary to them the egg look like an egg.
5. Chill for at least an hour, but up to an night.
6. Heat the oil in a saucepan (a good rule is to drop a small piece of bread, if it brown very quickly ie say 2-3 seconds, turn the heat down a bit, it should take about 10 secs I’d say). Carefully place a couple of eggs at a time (more if your pans is larger of course) and cook for about 3 minutes.
Now the cooking bit I’m going to work on. I think I could fry the eggs for longer, but since everything is already cooked, there is no need actually.
Voila! butifal straight from the stove, or cold the following day when the egg is firmer, toothier.