Sunday 12 February 2012

Chinese Scotch Egg

On first glance, this may seem like a normal scotch egg - perhaps even a kiev. Fortnum & Masons claim to have made the first scotch egg, and indeed they are the perfect picnic snack. But long gone are the days of cold, soggy breadcrumbed shell and eggs within boiled to oblivion, that tell-tale grey ring around the yolk indicating a lack of love. A new wave of scotch eggs hit London a while ago now, one of the most lauded being The Harwood Arms' venison version, below.

The gamey meat encased a beautifully cooked egg, yolk bursting forth from being cut. The gauntlet was thrown, and pubs all around London came up with their own versions. The Ship hosted a friendly Scotch Egg Challenge for a definitive.

Throughout all this, a vague idea of a Chinese version was nagging at me. I kept swooping from pork with preserved veg, to perhaps five spice? It was all a little half hearted. A dish at The Heron, minced pork with crispy-coated fried century eggs revived the passion; this was to be my eggy base. As luck would have it, @supercharz tweeted a prawn-coated century egg from Hong Kong - hurrah! The plan was made.

Century eggs are so called because legend has it that they were buried in clay for a hundred years to preserve them. These days, they're buried in alkaline clay for between a few weeks to a few months. This results in the egg white turning into a black, clear jelly - the egg yolks are grey-green. Admittedly it's not the most appetising thing to look at, but the flavour is mild and delicate.

The prawn paste is processed until thick and sludgy and smooth in texture, reminiscent of fish balls you can buy in the Chinese supermarket. This is then wrapped around the egg and the whole lot dunked in breadcrumbs and fried. I toyed with the idea of rolling them in sesame seeds, but they burn quite quickly and I wanted a stronger crunch texture.

Served with a drizzle of spring onion, chilli oil and black vinegar, these were pretty special. The eggy centre worked well with the prawn filling, which was bouncy and light.

These probably wouldn't go down to well with your more conservative friends; I had one leftover which I later stir-fried with some chilli bean sauce and broccoli whick worked brilliantly too, if you don't mind a sauce-laden exterior.

Chinese Scotch Eggs

Makes 4

4 century eggs (both the big supermarkets on Gerrard Street sell them)
450gr raw, unshelled prawns
2 tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
3 spring onions
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 egg white + 1 egg
Panko breadcrumbs
Enough vegetable oil to deep fry

For the sauce -

2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
3 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp chilli oil

Devein the prawns and add to a food processor with the ginger, garlic, white pepper, spring onions, salt, soy sauce, cornflour and egg white. Whizz until smooth.

Peel the century eggs carefully and then add a thin layer, about the thickness of a pound coin to a square of cling film. Wrap the century egg by gathering the corners up and distributing the prawn paste evenly. Wrap and place in the fridge for an hour to chill (this helps it hold its' shape). When ready, roll in the breadcrumbs, then roll in the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs again.

Fry gently for 5 - 6 minutes, until nicely golden all around. I found it a bit tricky to control the temperature in my wok so I fried till golden and then finished it off for 15 minutes in a 200 degree oven.

Century eggs are perhaps more forgiving as the yolks are already set.

Combine the sauce ingredients and serve the egg drizzled with this.


Kavey said...

Cunning, these look ace. I have only tried century eggs a couple of times... don't love them or hate them, am a bit ambivalent. But would love to try these.

Paula/Tim said...

Great idea to use century eggs, this sounds like a very unusual but successful combination. We devised a scotch egg paste for quails eggs, also a great colour combination like yours

Grumbling Gourmet said...

Awesome... Look so wrong, but I'm already planning a dinner party round these. Now how could / would you give an Oriental twist to that other meaty eggy joy, the gala pie?


Ed said...

Love these ... in theory. I've never had a century egg, so I better seek some out to confirm - where did you get yours from?

Andrea Antoniou said...

mmmmm it actually looks delicious :) xxx

Mr Noodles said...

Love it! Next time, perhaps you could slip in a bit of the pickled ginger you sometimes get with century egg.

James Brewer said...

I have never tried century eggs before, and to be honest the look of them puts me off. Interesting to use them for scotch eggs.

Christie @ Fig & Cherry said...

Gorgeous flavours Lizzie! The most recent winner of Masterchef Australia made a scotch egg with prawn paste and Japanese flavours, but I love your idea of the century egg.

Hollow Legs said...

Kavey - thanks! I know what you mean RE: ambivalence.

Paula / Tim - thanks! Quails eggs are a nightmare I imagine - wouldn't want to be on peeling duty for it...

Grumbling - thanks! Perhaps steamed pork with salted duck egg in the middle, wrapped in bao?

Ed - New Loon Moon on Gerrard Street. If you can get past the blackness, it's ace.

Ria - Hurrah, finally! :)

Mr Noodles - Yes, I thought about that too - great idea.

James - Yes, it's a common problem with many people, that blackness and grey / green yolk.

Christie - thanks! Ah, I'll have to look it up.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Bookmarking. Currently in a bit of a Chinese + SE Asian cooking phase, so these are just perfect. Won't be cooking them for anyone else, mind - just for me ;)

Unknown said...

I've always been a bit scared of century eggs, but now you've described them as mild I will have to give them a go. Great twist on a classic by the way!

Helen said...

Mmmm century egg. SCARY to look at, taste lush! Love the idea of bouncy prawns around the outside, too. Bouncy, bouncy eggy weg.

PDH said...

These scare me... I'd be too chicken to eat them :^(

John said...

hmm, a very unusual and clever recipe, although I have to say I'd much rather the nice, gooey venison scotch egg from The Harwood Arms!

Helena Lee said...

Bold, Lizzie, Bold.

Personally I want to come round and get you to make it for me because it sounds BRILLIANT.


Richard Elliot said...

Looks damn fine! I love the idea of throwing the spare scotch egg into a stir fry.

the gannet said...

I didn't even know century eggs existed till fairly recently...they scare, but intrigue me. One day.

The Greedy Fork said...

Erm... I don't usually say this, but that is not something I'd like to eat. I'd probably try the tiniest bit if someone made it, but it just looks so wrong.

Hollow Legs said...

A forkful - do let me know if you try it.

Little Dinner - The colour is rather off putting but give them a go!


Pavel - chicken! egg! hurrrr. Honestly though, nothing to be scared of.

John - yes, that one is rather good!

Helena - thanks! It was pretty tasty.

Richard - it went surprisingly well.

Gannet - do it. There is a Sichuanese dish that serves it with chopped green chilli, sesame, tofu and that too.

Gary P - fair enough. At least you'll try it, that's something.

Shu Han said...

oh man that looks freaking awesome to me. maybe they're scary to msot people, but I grew up with these things, and they always make a plain dish so special. we used to have it with congee, omg WANT.

Anonymous said...

I love the look of this. The photo of the peeled egg on the prawn paste looks great! Think I'm going to get hold of some Century eggs and experiment myself.