Old Fashioned and Post Modern Scotch Eggs
Although Fortnum and Mason, the famous food store in London, claims to have invented scotch eggs in 1738, a Moghul dish nargisi kofta ( narcissus meatballs) is documented before that date. The Moghul name is quite poetic, referring to the golden center of the egg-shaped meatball. In the Netherlands, this is called the vogelnestje, or bird’s nest. Whatever you would like to call them, rustic but tasty scotch eggs have been around for a long time. The first printed recipe for scotch eggs appeared in the venerable Mrs. Rundell’s Art of Domestic Cookery published in London in 1809.
To make a traditional scotch egg, you boil an egg until it is “mollet” ( hard whites but yolk remains a bit runny) and peel it. You could use small or medium hen’s eggs, the fresher the better of course. Then cover the entire the egg with seasoned ground pork or pork sausage meat. Roll the sausage-covered egg in bread crumbs, and fry it. You can find a good recipe here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/may/31/how-to-cook-the-perfect-scotch-egg
Scotch eggs are high protein and they travel well – no spilling – so they make tasty picnic food, or a filling snack on a hike, a bicycle trip, or a hunt. Or a long day at the research library, for that matter. My Aunt Nora made them for picnics on the Chesapeake Bay, and they always hit the spot after the long walk down to the water.
In Great Britain, many pubs serve fresh, house-made scotch eggs. Since the 1800’s, people often eaten them hot with gravy, or with a dab of hot mustard. In an American pub today, some folks dip them in ketchup or ranch dressing. They are sort of like WASP soul food. But just the way people dream up delicious new ways of fixing tacos, cooks are playing new riffs on this traditional favorite in different corners of the world.
Last week, my daughter, Lucy, visited my son Charlie in Singapore, where he has been living for the past three years. Charlie emailed me this picture of Southeast Asian scotch eggs. And Lucy sent this description… . Later last night we met for dinner at this hip, by not crazy fancy, restaurant called Ding Dong, located on Club Street (the kind of old school, Singaporean looking street with a couple great restaurants and rooftop bars). They had some pretty unreal pan-Asian dishes that successfully fused eastern and western flavor/presentation concepts in totally ingenious ways. For example, we had "Vietnamese scotch eggs" made with tiny quail eggs surrounded in thin sausage and a cilantro laced batter, served with a chili sauce on the side-- so good !
If you are visiting London, you can still buy traditional scotch eggs at Fortnum and Masons, and they are delicious, hot or cold. Or give them a try at Ding Dong next time you are in Singapore.