Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of dishes that could be brunch, could be lunch or could be a light supper. They could be eaten completely casually or, with the right introduction and the right accompaniments, they could be served as the main element in a special meal. Most of them are made with eggs and lots (but not all) have no meat in them. Most of them have some kind of exotic element (Middle Eastern, perhaps), but increasingly I no longer feel the need to go to town with matching sides and dips and exactly the “right” herb for the chosen cuisine the way I used to.
These dishes stand alone; their sides stand alone too. Case in point – these lovely baked eggs with crab and chilli that I came up with yesterday, which have kind of a Sri Lankan feel. Bread didn’t feel quite right alongside them and I didn’t want to go a noodle or rice direction either. What I wanted was Jersey Royals, simply cooked, with a little butter as usual, because it was a nice spring day. And because I’d decided on the new potatoes, I also wanted asparagus.
The combination was absolutely delicious, and the slightly unusual partnership brought out new qualities in the sides – the sweetness of the asparagus stood out against the rich intensity of the brown crab meat; the nuttiness of the Jersey Royals standing up surprisingly steadfastly against the drizzle of sesame oil.
CHILLI-CRAB BAKED EGGS
Serves 3; increase quantities as required
6 free range eggs
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
100g brown crab meat
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp curry powder
Fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
2 spring onions
Drizzle of sesame oil (optional)
Serve with Jersey Royals with coriander & butter and asparagus
If you’re planning to serve the eggs with Jersey Royals, start these now, boiling with a tiny pinch of salt till tender. You can drain them in leave them in their saucepan till you need ’em – they’ll stay pretty hot if you put the lid back on tightly. Preheat your oven to 250ºc.
To make the eggs, trim and slice the spring onions finely. Set the green bits aside and fry the white bits in a drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat (in an ovenproof frying pan if you have one or a regular frying pan if you don’t). Add the ginger and fry for a few minutes. Add the brown crab meat, the garlic, the curry powder, the zest of half a lime and some of the red chilli and cook for a couple more minutes, or until fragrant. Add a large knob of butter and a tiny pinch of salt. If you’ve been using an ovenproof frying pan, just proceed straight on. If not, transfer the crab mixture to an ovenproof dish now. Break the eggs in and gently swirl the crab mix up through the egg whites, being careful not to break any yolks. Cover each yolk with a splash of cream. Top the dish with another small knob of butter. Place the dish in the oven. Bake for 15-20 mins, grilling for the last 10 minutes if you can. If you’re serving the eggs with asparagus, start it now. Toss the potatoes in a little butter and add a good handful of diced coriander. When the eggs are golden and bubbling, top with the remaining diced coriander, spring onion & red chill and a tiny drizzle of sesame oil if desired. Enjoy with a squeeze of lime juice.