7th July 2023 | Words by Kieran Creevy | Photography by Lisa Paarvio
The green walls of our tunnel tent glow, light shimmering and flowing in waves, the dawn chorus ebbing, reminding us that time is a-wasting. Waking slowly in cocoons of silk, down and nylon there’s a delicious sense of lethargy. We’re slow to get moving. Here, beneath stark basalt mountains on the Isle of Skye, the scent of sun-warmed earth and heather flows into the tent. Still in our sleeping bags, there’s good natured banter as to who has to leave the comfort of a warm bag to light our stove and get breakfast going.
Grumbling slightly, one of the team wriggles out of the tent, the fly taut with the heat from a cloudless sky. A rare and unexpected joy here in the far North West of Scotland, where one day of sunshine is a thing to be celebrated. The contrast in this landscape bewitches, and pulls us into its embrace. Packs lie in the lee of the tent, the pink loops of our climbing rope wedged underneath a lid, ready for today’s scramble along beautiful ridges, the beams of sunlight shading the rock formations, calling to mind a Jacob’s Ladder of sorts, ascending to the heavens.
Descending to the stream, Vreni slides up a sleeve and fishes for the drybag wedged between boulders, before filling the kettle for a brew. Inside, chilled in this makeshift fridge overnight are wild salmon fillets and hardboiled eggs, cooked the night before. Though the hue on the salmon skin is slightly muted, the flesh holds a dark pink hue, far removed from the pale colours of their farmed brethren. Coming across the farm yesterday added the final element to this morning’s breakfast: free-range eggs. Handing a little ball of crumpled cash to the farmer who raised the birds that laid these eggs gives a far greater sense of human interaction than any chip-and-pin transaction in a supermarket.
These types of exchanges are still an everyday occurrence in the region from which we get the other elements of our meal. Rice and spices from Indian markets mingled with the colonial additions of fish and eggs transform the local dish of kichirī into today’s morning kedgeree.
Though some kedgeree recipes include curry powder, no self-respecting Indian cook would ever resort to that vaguely brown powder that tends to sit in a jar at the back of the cupboard. Use the spices below, or add to it as you will – the flavour will be far better than any pre-made mix. Dried whole spices weigh little, and changing the quantities below can greatly alter the flavour of the recipe below, so we encourage you to experiment.
2 cups long grain rice or a mix of long grain and wild rice
2 tbsp garam masala powder (or use the spice mix below:)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black onion seeds
1 tsp rock salt or sea salt
1 tsp pepper
2 organic duck or chicken eggs, hard-boiled the night before and kept fresh in the drybag fridge (or a normal refrigerator, if you’re not camping)
2 fillets wild salmon or trout
Chervil and coriander leaves
1 tbsp ghee, olive oil or butter
Heat the ghee, butter or oil in a pan. When hot, add the spices and salt.
Cook the fish fillets skin-side down first until crisp, then flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from the pan and leave to rest.
Place rice in a pot and rinse. Drain the excess starch and add clean water until the rice is just covered. Place your fingertip on top of the rice and add more water until it reaches your first knuckle.
Bring to the boil, with lid on until fluffy, and season.
Peel and chop the eggs.
Flake the fish fillets into the rice, add the eggs, tear the chervil and coriander leaves and mix well.
If you serve this as a pudding rather than a breakfast dish, you can make it with cream instead of yoghurt, and add a dram of good Scotch whisky if you feel like it.
2 tbsp wild heather honey
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp raspberries
4 tbsp strained yoghurt
Bring water to the boil, add the oats and cook. You should have a thick mixture.
Add 2 tbsp butter to the mix and stir in.
In another pan, heat up the other tbsp butter.
Spoon some of the oatmeal into the pan and flatten to form thick discs.
Fry on one side, flip and fry again.
Spoon into bowls and top with yoghurt, raspberries and honey.
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