I had to bring a dish.
Ok, well I didn’t “have” to, but I wanted to. Mochachocolata organised an amazing potluck/cook/bring takeaway/whatever the case, eat yourself silly fiesta. I was so excited to finally be able to try her food, but also I was going to be able to get my hands on her delicious son.
(smokin’ hot look snapped by jasonbonvivant)
Cutest kid on the planet. Period. So I needed a dish to impress.
Ok, it might be a while before Marcus is eating my food, but when something like this comes up, my brain starts turning. Turning so much that I usually have a mess of ideas swirling around my head as I walk from street to street. I wanted a dish that said something about me. I wanted something that would be easy to transport without critical temperature requirements. I wanted an excuse to buy pork from the butchers in Central market. And what the hell, it was Easter weekend so I wanted some eggs in there somewhere. At the eleventh hour, after going from salads to sliders, I finally decided on Scotch eggs.
If you’ve never had one, a Scotch egg is boiled egg surrounded by sausage meat which is then breaded and deep fried. A traditional picnic food, they can be eaten cold or as many pubs and restaurants are doing now, served warm with a slightly running centre. A quick Google says that Scotch eggs didn’t originate from Scotland at all, but instead, the department store Fortnum and Masons in London -a place that’s been around before the US was even a country. Now tourists go there to buy silver tea sets and marmalade.
I had never had a Scotch egg until I moved to the UK. I was filming at the Abergavenny Food Festival, and found a stall that looked to be the Baskin Robbins of Scotch Eggs -chocolate and chili, thai curry, black pudding, traditional. Whatever the flavour -delicious. I made my first Scotch egg at the Victoria which gave me the balls (no pun intended) to try it again on my own. They aren’t hard to make, but for a first timer, they do require a bit of time and organisation otherwise you will have pork and flour everywhere.
Another trip to Central market in the early morning, I found myself practicing Cantonese (thanks to e_ting) and asking for 上肉. Chinese cuts are pretty foreign to me, but the butcher pulled out what looked to be pork blade. He ground it for me on the spot, and soon I was walking home with 600g of fresh mince pork. After tasting the result, I have to say I will NEVER buy ground meat in a supermarket package again. The difference is incredible. A good balance of fat and the texture of the grind was spot on.
I decided to season the pork with Vietnamese style ingredients -chili, garlic, lime, fish sauce. But what makes Scotch eggs so great is that you can pretty much add anything you want to the pork mix. Stay traditional or go nuts, with the basic recipe you will never get bored. And I have to say the eggs were perfect as a potluck option. They kept well and reheated easily in the oven. Which gave me plenty of time to play with Marcus.
Vietnamese Style Scotch Eggs
For the eggs
- 11 eggs
The key here is not over boiling the eggs. I like a slightly runny centre. I put the kettle on first to get the water going. Place the eggs in a pot and pour the boiling water over the top. Keep the heat on medium and set a timer for 6 minutes. Ready a bowl full of ice water and plunge the eggs in once the timer dings. You can peel them immediately or leave them until you’re ready to do so.
- 600 g fresh mince pork (I think it was blade but can’t be sure)
- 3 red chilies, chopped
- half bulb of garlic, smashed
- 4 stalks of lemongrass, chopped
- 3 inch piece of ginger, chopped
- zest of two limes
- fish sauce
- a spoonful of brown sugar
- 1 bunch of coriander (cilantro)
- salt (to taste)
Place the chilies, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and lime zest in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add a little bit of fish sauce and brown sugar. Pulse again until it’s like a loose paste.
Chop the coriander and mix everything through the pork. To make sure the seasoning was spot on, I tested a small piece in the frying pan. Here’s where I made my mistake. I added extra fish sauce to the mix which made it too wet. Later, this became a big problem which I fixed, but rather than lead you down the wrong path, if you want to add more seasoning use salt instead.
Forming the sausage around the eggs
This is the technique that I learned at the Victoria. It takes a little bit of practice, but just be patient and try to work clean. Place a sheet of cling film on your work surface. Roll a ball of the sausage mix about the size of your fist and flatten down on the cling film. You want it to be about 2-3 cm thick. Dry off the egg and place in the centre.
Using the cling film, fold the sausage over the egg to form a half moon. Press down around the egg. Handling carefully, remove from the cling film and pinch off the excess meat. Gently roll around in your hands to form a uniform ball. Place in the freezer until ready to use. This will hold the shape while you continue to form all your eggs.
- 4 eggs
- panko bread crumbs
- oil for frying
Set up a pane station and dip the eggs in flour, then egg, then roll in panko. Set on parchment paper until ready to fry. Heat the oil on medium and fry for 4 minutes, making sure to turn gently every once in awhile. The outside edges will look quite crispy, but the inside will yield the perfect result.
They are best straight out of the fryer, but if you are transporting them like I did, just reheat them in an oven once you get there. Just make sure to allow plenty of ventilation in your carrying case so the breading doesn’t get soggy. I imagine these might be nice eaten cold for breakfast too.