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Fowl play

Tasting

Having your own eggs at home means endless cooking possibilities

Tasting
Redmond Cabot

We welcomed hens back into our garden recently. Six little red ones, two Bluebells, a couple of speckled greys and a black and red beauty.
“Glitter! Chicken Wing! Henrietta!” call out the girls, Penny, Beatrice and Seafra. “Feathers! Mrs Greedy!”
The girls spend hours in the hen run, staring at hens until they lay eggs. Two-year-old Louis tags along, ‘vrooming’ his toy tractor through the birds’ reptilian legs. Each hen has their own distinct personality; they are very cheeky and they love attention. The children can tell you exactly which hen laid and exactly which egg! They feed the ‘chooks’ corn and jelly sweets, collect the eggs, and make nests and hen traps. Let us not dwell on the latter (thankfully, they never work!).
Having one’s own eggs is a delightful luxury. The yolks display a deep yellow from all the fresh grass the hens eat. The whites are firm and globular like little jellyfish. Eggs are actually a near perfect food, containing protein, healthy fats and a huge list of vitamins and minerals.

Egg Foo Young
Now we have hens, the fridge is never bare: quiches, frittatas, soufflés; there’s always something new to make. Recently I made Egg Foo Young, a dish I remember from Chinese takeaways in New York. The dish seems to have originated from the kitchens of Chinese-American chefs in the US in the early 1900s. You can make a vegetarian version or add some cooked prawns, chicken, or pork to your version.

What you need

  • Ten free-range eggs
  • Three carrots
  • One bunch of beansprouts
  • One bunch of spring onions
  • One punnet of sliced mushrooms sliced
  • One small tin of water chestnuts
  • Two tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • Basmati rice, seasoning

To serve

  • Soya sauce
  • Chopped spring onions
  • Chillies, if you like


What you do next
Start with the rice. Put one mugful of rinsed Basmati rice in a saucepan. Add two mugs of salted boiling water.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for approximately ten minutes. Cover and place to the side.
Peel and chop the carrots into fairly small pieces, boil or steam for approximately five minutes. Stir-fry the inch long chopped spring onion pieces, mushrooms and beansprouts for a few minutes over high heat. Add the water chestnuts and cooked, drained carrot to stir-fry for another couple of minutes.
This is a very versatile dish, you absolutely can use any other veggies you have lying around. But make sure you include the beansprouts and water chestnuts for a nice, contrasting crunch. Add your cooked prawns or pulled pork or chicken to the stir-fry now, if you’re going for the non-veggie version.
Lightly beat your eggs in a bowl. Add the stir-fried ingredients to the bowl, mix well with the eggs.  
Into a clean pan, add a glug of oil for cooking the omelettes. I recommend doing these in batches. Cook the omelette for a few minutes on one side, tuck it over into a semi-circle, cook for a minute, flip and cook the other side.
Serve with the rice, finely chopped spring onion and, if you like, some chopped chilli and/or soy sauce. Egg Foo Young is yum!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday from 8am to 1pm.