Scottish chefs and cooks share their egg hacks for scrambled, fried and poached, in time for Easter
Are you eggs-perienced? If not, don’t worry, you too can master the humble oeuf
Those who aren’t fans of the sugary stuff, might want to spend this Easter weekend paying tribute to the humble non-chocolate egg.
There are a million ways to use them, from shakshuka to Benedict, Scotch, shirred, as okonomiyaki and nasi goreng.
However, sometimes finding perfection in the simple preparation - poaching, scrambling, frying - eludes us, and we end up with snotty, powdery, or flavourless versions, with yolks like rubber bouncing balls.
Even peeling a boiled egg can be tricky, though experts suggest that, after cooling it, you use a teaspoon slotted under the membrane to gently prise off the shell.
Start with a good quality product.
Ross McDonald of Glasgow’s Partick Duck Club says; “We cook lots of eggs at our restaurant - fried, scrambled, poached, crispy bread-crumbed, from hens and ducks. All from Corrie Mains, a cracking wee farm”.
We asked a few chefs and cooks to share their hacks and secrets, to help us reach eggy nirvana.
There’s an old-fashioned saying, “An egg without salt is like a man without a moustache”.
Although facial hair might be less ubiquitous these days, when we asked for tips on scrambling eggs, everyone said “lots of salt”.
There was also a consensus that you should cook them “low and slow” and use tons of butter, though others more controversially suggested adding turmeric, chilli flakes and Parmesan cheese. Neil Forbes of Edinburgh’s Cafe St Honore enjoys the sybaritic addition of white truffle.
At Mint Croft on the Isle of Skye, their signature scrambled eggs feature a specific 30g of Orkney salted butter and a twist of ground pepper.
A couple of chefs, including Malcolm Webster, who used to be executive chef at Edinburgh’s Sheraton, but now does the same job for luxury hotel group Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, cooks his scrambled eggs in a bain marie - a bowl above the pan of water. (We bet it’s easier to clean than a pan).
He also adds the cream towards the end of cooking, rather than at the start.
In a similar vein, as well as butter and double cream, Paul Kitching, chef patron of 21212, adds a little warm water to dilute the egg white and slow down the cooking process.
John Rutter, head chef at Edinburgh’s Huxley, says, “For the perfect scrambled eggs, make sure your eggs are fresh and free range. For fresh, luxurious and velvety versions, I like to add butter and double cream. The perfect scrambled eggs should be loose and velvety. The addition of double cream gives you a rich, luxurious finish. Serve on toasted focaccia with some finely chopped chives and for a special treat a few slices of Scottish smoked salmon.”
This sort of egg is the bane of every bed and breakfast owner. There are so many things that can go wrong, including ending up with a disembodied yolk and water full of white.
Louise Clelland of boutique hotel Millers 64, which closed down recently, says; “I still break out in a sweat when I hear the word poached”.
Robbie Morrow, head chef and owner of Glasgow’s new Haylynn Canteen, has plenty of eggs on his brunch-focused menu. He says, “Bring a large deep pan of water to a gentle simmer. The deeper the pan the better. This allows the egg to maintain the perfect shape. Add a splash of white wine vinegar or distilled malt vinegar to the pan. It’s important not to have the water boiling too fiercely either, as this will break up the eggs. Always break your eggs into a small bowl or container before dropping them into the water. Add them one at a time and space them out. I generally poach four eggs max at a time. Wait for roughly 3.5 minutes. (But all eggs are different sizes so every poached egg has a different cooking time). You want a nice bounce on the egg when touched. Check this with a slotted spoon and a gentle touch of the egg during the cooking process. When cooked, carefully remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon”.
Neither Rob of Partick Duck Club, nor Robbie, think it’s necessary to swirl the water (a popular trick that creates a sort of vortex), so we won’t bother next time.
One of the best-sellers at Jessica Elliott Dennison’s Edinburgh cafe, Elliott’s, is her sunny side up fried egg with sage and lemon, which has, as she says, “a cult following”. This is how she makes it. “For me, the perfect egg is fried in cold-pressed rapeseed oil, along with plenty of sage leaves. Once the leaves are fragrant and crisp, I use a fish slice to flip them onto the egg white, then serve on sourdough toast with lemony wilted greens, plenty of flaky sea salt and extra lemon zest. I like to ensure the egg yolk is still runny so that it can soak into the toast. It's the dream combination of fragrant (nothing quite beats the smell of sage frying!), salty, crispy, runny, lemony and comforting. Familiarity with a twist”.
If you’re more of a purist, Robert Meldrum, the head chef at Harvey Nichols, says; “Allow the raw egg to reach room temperature. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan until fairly hot and crack the egg in slowly to prevent it spreading around the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, then turn the heat down to low, add a little butter and, using a spoon gently baste the egg until the white is fully cooked and the yolk is still runny”.