May is a greedy month for those who love British asparagus and gulls eggs. Both have similar seasons, yet one is much rarer and somewhat more expensive. At a whopping £4.00 an egg (Rex, Chelsea Green) you certainly don’t want to break one. I am embarrassed to say that 10 years ago I may have just passed one off as a slightly odd-shaped and strange tasting hens egg. Yet now I relish them, their slight gamey taste, with ultra rich orange yolk, lighter white, speckled sage green and slate shell; they are a real treat, work of art and complete luxury. They are also not your average seagull egg – these are the eggs of black headed gulls, and they taste magnificent – this egg is an A-lister!
Needless to say there is quite a following behind such eggs. My fish monger maintains he sells about 200 eggs a day and on a friday and saturday up to 400! Though I wince each year at the ever-increasing price, I still can’t resist buying them. They go hand in hand with fresh asparagus and are divine simply dipped in celery salt. Last night we had them as a starter along side home potted shrimps and blanched asparagus. The eggs are perfect picnic fare (think luxury version of the hard boiled hens egg), and also work well in a salad such as the one below – though I used quail eggs on this occasion!
Char-grilled asparagus, baby leek and quail egg salad (or Gulls eggs if you are feeling generous)
1 Bunch of asparagus steamed for 2 minutes
About 8 baby leeks – steamed for 2 minutes – or use normal leeks sliced on the diagonal 1cm wide
6 quail eggs or 2 gulls eggs
Tarragon dressing: 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped tarragon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of honey
1. Place a char grill on the hob and heat till almost smoking – cut the asparagus in half lengthways and char grill briefly, do the same with the leeks and then toss together in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of good olive oil, a pinch of Maldon salt and grind of black pepper.
2. To make the dressing: whisk the mustard with the honey and slowly add in the olive oil, followed by the vinegar and tarragon (add a drop of water to loosen it if necessary).
3. Put a pan of water onto boil – and if using the quail eggs boil for 2-3 minutes depending if you want them soft or hard – Gulls eggs boil for 4 minutes. Plunge into cold water and peel.
4. Place the asparagus and leeks on each plate, drizzle over the dressing and crack the eggs on top.