Friday, January 30, 2015

Devilled Herring Roe On Toast

Herring melts or milts – the soft, creamy roe of male herrings (vastly different from the female ‘hard roe’) -  have to be one of the most underrated foods in my book. Especially given the fairly cheap price – about £4 a kilo. You often see them on fish counters, but I never see anyone buying them. Just the odd pensioner - probably an overhang from a time when they were a lot more popular – which is a real shame as they make a delicious lunch or light supper.

There are plenty of ways of cooking them, but I think the best is to have them on toast with ‘devilled’ spices thrown in, as in this recipe below. They have the texture of scrambled egg, somehow, and are apparently packed full of vitamin D, whatever that is.

200g herring melts
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter

Put the roes in a colander and swill under the cold water tap, then drain in the colander. Meanwhile, get a clean plastic bag and put in the flour, mustard, garlic, paprika and salt and pepper. Pinch the top of the bag and shake. Then toss in the roes.

Grip the top of the bag again, and give the bag a good shake to ensure the melts are evenly coated in the seasoned flour. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat for a minute or so and then lay the melts in the pan. 

Cook for three minutes until well sealed on the bottom then turn over and cook for another two minutes. Season to taste. Serve on hot buttered toast.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cooking In A Kettle: Vegemite Soup

This is the second in a series of blog posts I intend to post about my experimentations with cooking in a kettle. I was put on to the idea by a bloke I met in Cambodia and cooked some fairly decent meals in cheap hotel rooms out there.

But since I’ve been back, I’ve been experimenting further with cooking times etc. and asking people for suggestions.

This one came from an Australian woman called Sarah I work with. Her mother used to make her this when she was ill. The Jews have chicken soup, the Australians have their own brothy penicillin in Vegemite soup it seems.

It really couldn’t be simpler, and the beauty is of course you can “cook” it in a kettle, which after all is the point of these recipes. I have to say I’ve cooked it twice, and preferred it better the second time.

Perhaps I didn’t pick up on the gastronomic subtleties on first tasting, but it definitely has a moreish quality, and I imagine with the “B vitamins for vitality” so prominently displayed on the rather garishly-coloured Vegemite tube is a good pick-me-up if you’re feeling under the weather Down Under, or anywhere else for that matter.

Sarah’s mother sends her a parcel of Vegemite tubes every couple of months or so to stop her getting homesick, and she was kind enough to give me a tube so I could try out her delicious recipe.

Like all Australians she detests Marmite, and swears this soup should only be made with 100% Australian yeast extract grown on barley and wheat ie. Vegemite. She also recommends coating warm hard-boiled eggs with the stuff so that it melts and gives, I imagine, a 1,000-year-old eggs-style coating.

Vegemite Soup


1 kettle
1 bowl
1 soup spoon


1 slice of bread

Fill the kettle with about half a pint (250ml) of water and boil. While you’re doing this carefully prepare your soup base. Using the spoon, gently spread enough Vegemite so the bread is completely covered.

It’s important to get a consistent covering for aesthetic purposes, and after all, as chefs will continually tell you if you give them half a chance - you eat with your eyes.

The next bit is a tad more tricky. Take your bowl and carefully press the bread into it so it’s evenly centred with the corners poking up into four peaks. The Vegemite side should be facing up.

Pour in enough water to half fill the bowl and let it rest for two minutes to amalgamate the flavours and give the bread a doughy - almost melted cheese - consistency. Serve immediately.