quail’s egg shooters (+ the new hix cookbook reviewed)
It’s been a blissful week off blogging (I felt a break was deserved after the back-to-back Paris posts), but with a teetering tower of cookbooks awaiting reviews and a fast-growing backlog, I can slack no longer. First up from the lengthy list is Mark Hix‘s latest book ‘Hix Oyster & Chop House’, fresh off the press. The simple, but beautifully presented collection of recipes (dishes served at his restaurant of the same name) is interspersed with illustrated guides to different cuts of meat, and of course, an introduction to UK and Irish Oysters with tips on how to shuck the fiddly molluscs.
The ‘Bar’ section features the restaurant’s famed bar nibbles, from crowd-pleasers of pork crackling and scotch eggs, to more unusual fried snacks made with bits that would be normally be thrown away – broad bean pods, salmon skins and scallop frills. The tasty Quail’s Eggs Shooters (inspired by a South East Asian version served at NYC’s Fatty Crab) were ridiculously easy to make and rather addictive, although a bit messy to eat – my clumsy fingers kept crushing the delicate shells when I tried to ease the egg shots into my mouth.
On the whole the recipes have an emphasis on seasonality and local produce, are uncomplicated, and offer a selection covering every time of year. Hix makes it a point to feature lesser-known, more sustainable fishes such as Coley, Huss and Ling and also encourages foraging for those lucky enough to be near field or shore, with recipes like Seashore Salad and Fried Duck’s Egg with Spider Crab and Sea Greens. Aside from the egg shooters, I tried the Summer Vegetable Broth which was fresh, light and perfectly suited to the current spell of glorious weather. The silken quivering Elderflower and Buttermilk Pudding I trialed recently for a dinner party was equally summery and luscious.
Those three were the only I’ve tested so far, but there are plenty bookmarked for later, including a couple from the ‘On Toast’ section like the versatile Red Mullet on Toast with Crushed Broad Beans and Peas (which would make an elegant starter or a light main), and the Smoked Haddock Rabbit – Hix’s fishy take on the Welsh Rarebit. I also plan to attempt the more elaborate Chicken and Lobster Pie at some point (a variation on the Rabbit and Crayfish number that won a past season of ‘Great British Menu’), as well as many of the tempting quintessentially British puds at the back.
A great book that will have you heading straight to your nearest farmer’s market and pulling out your pots and pans to recreate the enticing British dishes that lie within.
Quail’s Egg Shooters
2 rashers of streaky bacon
2tsp chives, finely chopped
12 quails eggs
coarse sea salt (to present)
Grill or fry the bacon rashers until crisp, let cool and then chop as finely as possible. Mix with the chives in a small bowl and set aside.
Bring a pan of water to the boil then lower the quails eggs in carefully. Simmer for 20 seconds, then drain and run under the cold tap briefly.
Spoon a thick layer of salt onto your serving dish. Snip off the tops of the eggs with small scissors then stand then in the salt. Top with a small heap of the bacon mixture and serve immediately.
To eat, knock them back like a shot, squeezing the shell slightly to release the egg.