Soft-boiled gull's egg with flaked wild salmon belly, jersey royals and asparagus, by Philip Howard

23 May 2007
Soft-boiled gull's egg with flaked wild salmon belly, jersey royals and asparagus, by Philip Howard

Note: There are four components to this dish: the salmon, the gulls' eggs, the asparagus and the Jersey Royals. Each is cooked separately, the Jerseys requiring two different preparations (a foam and an écrasé). They come together to make a soft, sensuous, delicious seasonal starter.

Ingredients (Serves four)

1/2 white onion
175g butter
Salt and pepper
500g Jersey Royal potatoes (for foam)
750ml milk
2 sprigs mint
200g Jersey Royal potatoes (for écrasé)
1tbs crème fraîche
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 sprig dill
8 spears extra select English asparagus
4 gulls' eggs
275g wild salmon belly
2tbs lemon olive oil
1 lemon wedge
Pinch celery salt
Caviar (optional)

Method Get the two potato preparations going and, while they cook, carry on with the remaining components.

Jersey Royal foam: sweat onion in butter with pinch of salt until softened. Add 500g of potatoes. Sweat for a further two minutes. Cover with milk and cook until tender. Remove from the heat, add some mint, allow to cool slightly, then blend in a Thermomix-type blender until completely smooth. Season, put into a gas gun, charge, test and set aside in a warm place.

Jersey Royal écrasé: place 200g of potatoes in a small pan, cover with water and season. Bring to boil and cook gently until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat, add some mint and allow to cool in the cooking water. Drain potatoes, reserving the cooking liquor, crush gently with a fork and bind with the crème fraîche, adding enough cooking water to give an unctuous, creamy texture. Finish with spring onions and a pinch of chopped dill. Season. Reserve warm.

Peel asparagus with a fine-gauge peeler. Cut coarse ends from asparagus. Plunge asparagus into a large pan of heavily salted boiling water. Cook until al dente. Refresh briefly in iced water and place on a kitchen cloth on a tray to drain. Reserve at room temperature.

Cook gulls' eggs in boiling water for four minutes. Peel and reserve in fresh water at room temperature.

Place the salmon on a tray, season with salt and pepper. Coat generously in lemon olive oil. Cook on a plancha or non-stick pan until each side is lightly caramelised. Should fish require further cooking, finish under a gentle grill. The salmon must be cooked "pink". Once cooked, transfer to a fresh tray to prevent further cooking, season with a squeeze of lemon juice and leave to rest.

All components of the dish need to be served warm. Pass asparagus and eggs briefly through some hot, seasoned water. Check temperature of the other ingredients. Gently tease salmon belly into soft, succulent flakes.

Place a pool of écrasé in the centre of each bowl. Dress the gull's egg - cut in half and seasoned with celery salt - on top. Place asparagus tips alongside and finish with flakes of salmon belly. Complete dish with a generous squirt of Jersey Royal foam. A dollop of caviar would be a fine addition to the dish.

by Philip Howard, head chef and co-proprietor The Square, London

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