Smoked Trout and Scrambled Eggs
Updated: Jan 15, 2021
"A knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork,
That's the way we spell New York."
With the introduction of the High Street Kensington Farmers' Market I now have very nearby access to more local producers and one of them is Charlie's Trout. Reading their story it's really quite a simple and honest enterprise which takes considerately-reared trout from chalk-stream waters of Wiltshire and puts the smoking process into the hands of an experienced craftsman to achieve a top-quality product.
I have long been of the view that with smoked salmon being a "premium" product, and smoked trout somehow considered something of a lesser, that a good smoked trout is actually a much finer food than an equivalently-priced smoked salmon. So I was extremely keen to try Charlie's Trout's cold smoked slices to the test and I'm delighted that I did! I wanted a rather simple concoction to allow the trout to showcase itself but, truth be told, the first pack I bought couldn't have been given a simpler treatment: I ate the whole pack neat.
What I actually had in mind was drawn from a plate harking back to the late 80s/early 90s when (and I'm sure those old enough will remember) smoked salmon and scrambled eggs was an essential offering on the menu of any restaurant wanting to be anyone on the restaurant scene (that and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc). My most memorable recollection of that dish and that time comes from a short holiday I had with my schoolmate, Lindsay, and his family, to Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland in around 1990. Somehow we knew a restaurant we fancied eating at had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on its menu. But we hadn't come to know this from its website, not in those days! The internet didn't exist and there were barely any mobile phones then let alone "smart" phones. We had to use the payphone in the B&B that we were staying in (with views overlooking the most stunning bay) to make our table-booking - and somehow we failed to do so.
For this smoked trout with scrambled eggs I have used a selection of my favourite accompaniments for smoked oily fish: capers, red onion and black pepper. I also like lemon drizzled over smoked salmon or trout but with the sharpness of the capers I think the lemon would be a bit combative with the eggs. And the eggs I am lucky enough to be able to enjoy here come from Rookery Farm who sell in the nearby farmers' market. They've invited me down to their farm in West Sussex to "visit the girls" - believe me I can't wait until it's possible for me to go!
As a meal this can be served for breakfast, brunch (read hangover), lunch or supper - so it's quite flexible, that's for sure. Some grilled cherry tomato halves make for an enjoyable additional contributor to the plate and for a full meal, some nice sliced bread is all else that need be added.
I should point out: the lyrics I have quoted above come from a reggae artist Lindsay and I were listening to during our visit to Kinsale, but it's worth mentioning that the piece it came from may not be to everyone's liking!
There's absolutely no way I'm going to claim my way of making scrambled eggs is the right way! They are such a personal matter (I'm aware of at least one TV chef who uses scrambled eggs as one barometer of the talents of his job applicants), everyone likes to make and eat them a certain way, and there are very very few people who make scrambled eggs that I like more than the ones I make for myself, but I can say that my mate Al (of Prawn Creole legend) makes superb scrambles with eggs from the chickens out the back of his house. Another good plate of scrambles I have had made for me was in the Gordon Ramsay bistro in Terminal 5 of Heathrow airport but I may have been won over by the amount of cream in the mix. I thought it was quite a courageous move by Delia Smith to present her "definitive" technique for making scrambled eggs when she released her TV series and accompanying book "Delia's Complete How to Cook" in 2009. All I can say is that if hers is the correct approach then I clearly don't know "how to cook".
When it comes to my egg mix it's the same as the one I use for omelettes, which I described in "Crab Omelette aux Fines Herbes". Following a suggestion I saw years and years ago on the side of a jar of Coleman's mustard, I always put a generous teaspoon of hot English mustard and a good grind of pepper in with the eggs to add a piquancy to the creaminess. I should say that I don't think this works particularly well with other types of mustards though basic mustard powder is a decent option.
At the end of the day, what I'm offering here isn't really a recipe. It's just an arrangement of some very nice ingredients that combine superbly. As such the quantities given are only a guide but work well to my taste. The ideal finishing touch is that eternal friend of fish and eggs: chervil. But some parsley (especially the curly variety) is quite perfect too.
Smoked Trout and Scrambled Eggs
Ingredients (Serves 2)
100g cold-smoked trout slices, at room temperature
¼-½ red onion, very thinly sliced
1-2 tsp capers, drained
4-6 best quality eggs
1-2 tsp hot English mustard
2 knobs of butter
1-2 tbsp double cream (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chervil or parsley, chopped or sprigs, to garnish
Grilled cherry tomato halves, to serve (optional)
Arrange the trout slices on serving plates and lay some sliced red onion and capers over.
Whisk together the eggs, the mustard and some seasoning and heat the 2 knobs of butter in a saucepan over a medium-high heat until it starts to sizzle. Pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously with a spatula until they start to firm, about a minute. Just before they set add the cream (if using) and continue to stir.
Divide the scrambled eggs between the serving plates, give each plate a good grinding of black pepper and serve garnished with the herbs and the cherry tomatoes if liked.