Day 83: Crispy Pullet Egg, Charred Greens, Sriracha
inspired by Fallow
As I spent yesterday flicking through my (now full) notebook of recipes, lists of restaurants and shopping lists, it’s got me thinking about the beginning of lockdown.
Seems like a lifetime ago doesn’t it?
I’m thinking about the 16th March. The day that the West End closed down as theatre’s cancelled performances and shut their doors indefinitely.
I was actually in the West End watching “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” the day before. As that show has two parts we saw the second on the Sunday evening. We must have been among the last theatre audiences to leave the West End.
You could feel something was not right. There was a nervousness among audience members. A slight air of subdued melancholy that no amount of amazing performances from the stage could dispel. As the actors took their curtain call you could see that they, as well as us, were not sure if, or when they would be bowing again.
And yet on Monday shows carried on. Buildings opened, stages were prepped, auditoriums cleaned. Actors were actually in their dressing rooms already when the announcement was made at 5.30pm. Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre have made the decision to close all West End theatres with immediate effect. Tonight’s performances are cancelled. The show won’t go on.
Imagine being an actor in your dressing room, wondering if you should start your make up or not. Think about the crew and stage management teams prepping the stage, trying to pretend it’s just a normal day.
I actually know actors who were about to make their West End debut. They had finally made it, about to step out onto a major London stage for the first time.
But then they didn’t. They got sent home.
I’ve since learned of another West End debut ruined by the pandemic. That of Fallow restaurant.
Opening a restaurant at the best of times is ridiculously hard work. But opening the week before the lockdown makes it almost impossible. But that is what Fallow did. They had one week of trading at their new site of 10 Heddon Street before all bars and restaurants were ordered to close.
I’m not sure how or when Fallow will be back. You can buy vouchers to support them on their website. They, like so many others, have expanded into takeaway and delivery services, to try and keep going.
When I eventually venture into the West End (I’ve still not been brave enough to get on public transport yet) then I will head to Fallow to buy some of their legendary homemade sriracha sauce.
Sriracha is a type of chilli sauce originally made in Thailand. It’s one of those ingredients that you can now find on hundreds of menus. In burger sauces, drizzled over fries and coating chicken wings.
However not only do Fallow make their own, but they use it slightly differently too.
“Crispy Pullet Egg, Charred Greens, Sriracha”
This was on the menu when they opened. And this is what I’m cooking today. Mainly because I have pullet eggs (another of my Farmdrop purchases)
Pullet eggs are smaller than usual hen eggs. They are the first eggs laid by hens less than a year old. As the eggs are smaller than the supermarket grading system will allow, many are thrown away every year. A waste of good food and a lost source of income for farmers.
Fallow’s ethos is all about cutting food waste and promoting sustainability. I see on there current takeaway menu they are making burgers with dairy beef (see my post on beef koftas for more info). Dishes such as lemon peel pudding show how committed they are to use up every last part of an ingredient.
Pullet eggs are not just a byproduct of the egg farming industry. They are a delicacy that should be celebrated. Not only can they be richer than a standard hens egg, but they apparently hold their shape better when cooking.
This means they are perfect for poaching. Well, I hope they are. As I’m about to not only attempt to poach one, but then cover it in breadcrumbs and fry it. What could possibly go wrong?
I decided to have poached pullet eggs yesterday to see how they held together. Yes it’s true when I cracked the egg into the water it did keep it’s shape a bit better than a regular egg. But it was still a rather odd shape.
I don’t usually care what my poached eggs look like. I don’t use any special techniques. Half the time I don’t even bother with vinegar in the water. As long as it has a runny yolk then it’s fine by me.
But if I’m going to attempt to roll this egg in breadcrumbs I think it will make my life a lot easier if the poached egg is round to begin with.
So I’m going to try the cling film method.
It sounds straightforward enough. Line a small bowl with some lightly oiled cling film, crack in an egg, tie it up and then poach the parcel in boiling water.
I try to line a bowl with cling film. As a product designed to stick to the first thing it touches, the cling film puts up a fight. It does not want to line the bowl. It wants to cover the top. The best I can do is it get it to droop slightly in the middle. A sort of plastic egg hammock has been created.
I crack in an egg. Or should I say I crack in most of an egg. Some runs down the side of the bowl, getting egg all over the clingfilm, making it hard to handle and impossible to twist and knot. As I’m wrestling with the egg covered plastic I break the yolk.
Never mind. I need a beaten egg later before the breadcrumbs. So it’s not a waste. Plus I have three more pullet eggs so it doesn’t matter.
I try again. This time I get all of the egg inside the cling filmed bowl. I twist and tie the parcel trying my best to squeeze out the air, and most importantly, not squeeze out the egg.
Into the boiling water it goes. If I was poaching a normal egg I would do it for just over two minutes. The time it takes to toast some bread in my toaster. This is a smaller egg so I worry it will be overdone. But the handy thing about the cling film means you can lift the parcel out, have a look at it, and drop it back in. It’s definitely not set enough when the toaster pops. Nor after another minute. I reckon in the end it’s in the water for about 5 minutes. It must be done by now.
Into iced water to stop the cooking. Now for the tricky bit. Unknotting and unravelling the clingfilm. Sadly in the process of doing this the egg itself seems to unravel. It hasn’t stuck to the cling film, but the egg white hasn’t stuck to the yolk either.
An utter failure.
And because I dropped it into the flour to be coated, it’s now also inedible. No one wants to eat a floury egg.
I am never using cling film to poach an egg again.
I need a new tactic.
It doesn’t actually say on the menu what type of crispy egg it is. I could have used a boiled egg. I need to stop trying to show off and just make something edible. Something that stays in one piece.
So a pan of water goes on to boil. Accoring to the internet a pullet eggs takes 3-4 minutes to soft boil. I do three and a half before the egg goes into iced water.
I’m feeling confident now. I put a pan of sunflower oil on to heat for the deep frying. I slice and fry my greens (a mix of cabbage and cavolo nero) until nicely charred. All while my egg is cooling.
Now to peel the egg. Which turns out to be pretty tricky. I can feel the egg inside is really soft. I know it’s too soft. It’s not going to work. But I carry on regardless. When I finally manage to get the shell off the egg the white is cracked. As a place it in the flour it bursts and the yolk oozes out.
Another wasted floury egg.
I turn the hob off and take the oil off the heat.
This is getting ridiculous. I’m trying to replicate a dish from a restaurant that is all about reducing food waste. And what am I doing? Wasting eggs left, right and centre.
I only have one egg left.
This time I boil it for four and a half minutes. I let it cool. That’s better. The shell comes away easier and the white feels firm enough that I don’t have to panic about it breaking at any moment.
I look at the time. After over an hour of cooking I have managed to boil an egg.
I very gently roll it in flour, then in egg. There is something undeniably weird about rolling an egg in egg.
Finally into the panko breadcrumbs. I’m brave and go for a second dip in the egg and more breadcrumbs to get a thicker coating.
I leave the egg there whilst I reheat the oil and also warm up my now cold greens.
I transfer it into the oil with a slotted spoon. Imagine a slow motion egg and spoon race. I reckon that’s what I looked like in my kitchen.
There’s nothing slow about the frying though. It’s in the oil for less than two minutes before it’s golden and crispy. Time to plate up.
I’m using some chilli sauce I have in the fridge. I dribble a small amount over the greens and then sit the egg on top.
I would say it makes a lovely lunch. But my mind can’t shake the guilt of the floury, eggy mess that is in my food recycling bin right now. Rather than championing an underused product, I’ve simply created unnecessary waste.
I don’t think I’ll be making crispy eggs again any time soon.
I did manage a runny yolk though. So that’s something I suppose.