That’s a seriously unfair title as so far I’ve never seen Mike lose his cool and he’s actually an extremely likeable bloke. I was going to call this Mike Keen’s Crab Meat and Smoked Salmon Scotch Eggs but let’s face it, that’s a bit long-winded. So crabby it is.
I met Mike at the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival when he cooked an unfeasibly wide variety of upmarket pub grub in a ridiculously short time in front of a large audience. He got it all done in his allotted time and the festival-goers loved it.
Mike’s cooked his way round the world and more recently worked at Jimmy’s Farm of TV fame as well being a former head chef at the well-thought of Anchor at Walberswick. He’s now the gaffer of both the Ipswich gastropub the Brewery Tap and the Cult Cafe on the town’s waterfront.
Of all of the dishes he cooked at the festival this was the one I wanted to taste the most, but I turned my back for a minute and it miraculously vanished into thin air. Or someone’s tummy. So I asked Mike for the recipe. He made it with his award-winning pickled quails’ eggs but you can give fresh eggs a gentle boil instead.
Mike served them with a dipping sauce which is essentially an instant tomato jam. It’s actually very good but I wanted something more spicy and/or citrusy with – oh heck, let’s call them the marine Scotch eggs.
I tried a sweet chilli dipping sauce and a lemony mayo and neither was quite right. I liked them best with lots of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. So the jury’s out on that but whatever you serve them with, I do recommend you try the eggs. They’re really good.
Mike Keen's Crab Meat and Smoked Salmon Scotch Eggs
12 quails’ eggs
1 medium-sized dressed crab (about 250g of white and brown meat)
250g smoked salmon
About 1 heaped tspn of coriander leaves, chopped
Freshly-ground black pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice
For the coating:
2-3 beaten eggs (hens’ eggs this time)
Plus 1 litre of sunflower oil for frying
Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer and cook the quail’s eggs for two and a half minutes, until the whites are set but the yolks are still somewhat soft. Take out one and peel it if you’re not sure. When they’re done, run cold water over them to stop them cooking further and allow to cool before carefully peeling off the shells. Handle them gently because the yolks will still be runny.
Roughly chop the smoked salmon and blitz it together with the crab meat and coriander, using either a stick blender or by pulsing in a food processor. It should be well blended but not turned into a slurry. Season with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste. Set aside.
Divide the crab meat and smoked salmon mixture into 12 equal portions. Put a portion in the palm of your hand, flatten it out into a patty, put a peeled egg in the centre and very carefully fold the mixture around it, making sure the egg is evenly covered. Continue until all 12 eggs are done.
Now set up your assembly line. Take three small dishes and put plain flour in one, the beaten hens’ eggs in the second and the panko breadcrumbs in the third.
One at a time, roll the eggs in the flour, dusting off any excess; dip in the beaten egg; then coat with breadcrumbs. Pop them in the fridge while you heat up the oil.
Pour the oil into a deep saucepan – don’t fill it more than half full. Heat until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns light brown in 40 seconds. Cook the Scotch eggs in batches until a deep golden brown and drain on kitchen paper.
If you’re not sure they’re heated through, take one out, cut it in half and taste it. I would have liked the yolks to be a little runnier than I managed, but that was down to my cooking, not Mike’s recipe. Serve straight away.