Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Vegetarian 'Scotch Egg'

I am always filled with anger and disappointment when I read or hear of cultural insensitivities or worse, people’s basic lack of common sense, to treat each other with some dignity and respect. In the past I have wrote about how my soup was not 'suitable for vegetarians'; and my marshmallow experience. Well yesterday I saw this article on my blog sidebar.

At this works buffet, 'Scotch eggs' were labelled as an option 'suitable for vegetarians' and suitable to consume by those of a particular religious background, in this case Muslim employees. In actual fact, these 'Scotch eggs' were not suitable as they were made from pork. I would personally have terminated the contract of the caterers, but no apparently this organisation offers the offended employees who had eaten the meat product, a cup of tea.
The sceptic in me would not surprised if this was done out of malice; or for a joke by one of the caterers staff members. I mean anyone who has been raised in the U.K or gone to any traditional British buffet will know that the 'Scotch egg' is a hard boiled egg covered in sausage meat made namely from pork, then coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Scotch eggs can be eaten hot or cold and are often served at parties, cold buffets and picnics, similar to the pork pie. Therefore not suitable for people with particular diets.

I remember at Primary school witnessing and experiencing bullying behaviours from other children, specifically towards Arabic or South Asian children like myself, and in particular those who were Muslim, easily identified by dress. Other than the racist jibes that were deemed normal part of growing up for children of colour in this part of Wales, the other jibes you would often hear would be ‘do you wanna pork pie’. This wasn't a question, it was deemed an insult aimed primarily at the Muslim children who religiously were forbidden to eat any part of the pig. At night, the cowardly racist adults would throw bits of pork pies at the windows of Muslim homes, and at the small Jewish community, it would be eggs. I don’t think this kind of behaviour has disappeared, in those days it was direct, nowadays it is subtle.
Anyway, back to the above article/incident – I also do think the Muslim employees should have used their personal judgement and commonsense too, as sometimes the offering of complimentary food tempts us to overlook our dietary convictions, sometimes it easy to blame others afterwards, rather than take personal responsibility at the time.
Personally, I have liked the ‘idea’ of the Scotch egg. I have always liked crispy things, and admired the deep fried coating of the scotch egg. I had always wanted to make a vegetarian version and had read numerous ways to do this, with nuts, beans and pulses, but I wanted to include a vegetable, a fungi in this case. So here is my take. This was originally a Pâté , as I had made too much (double the quantity), I decided I could use the remaining Pâté to mould a hard boiled egg, coat with breadcrumbs and deep fry and there you have it my vegetarian 'scotch egg'.
Mushroom coated 'Scotch eggs'
Makes 6 eggs
Ingredients6 hard boiled eggs
½ cup of yellow lentils
1 bay leaf
40g butter
1 small onion, finely sliced
250g button mushrooms, minced
½ tablespoon of finely chopped soft herb (oregano, parsley or coriander)
Salt and pepper to taste
Breadcrumbs to coat
1 beaten egg for dipping
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Place lentils and bay leaf into a pan and cover with cold water. Cover pan and simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are soft. Drain well. Melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Add onion and cook for a couple of minutes, then add mushroom, oregano, lemon juice and seasoning. Cover and cook on a low heat until mushrooms are soft. Combine well drained lentils and mushrooms mixture into a food processor and blend til the mixture is relatively smooth, be careful not to puree it. Allow to cool. Divide the mixture into six, then take a handful and pat it in your palm, gently covering the hard boiled eggs completely. Leave in fridge for up to an hour to firm up. When ready to eat, bring back to room temperature (don't miss this step or the coating will split whilst deep frying) before dipping in beaten egg, coat in breadcrumbs and deep fry till golden.

I served these with beetroot chutney and home-made piccalilli. Now why didn’t the caterers think of this?!


  1. I have never heard of these, but they look yummy!


  2. That just makes my blood boil!
    I am glad you got something positive from it. Nice recipe! I am excited because there are mushrooms in there. I am bookmarking it. I have my own recipe for veggie scotch eggs, well one I adopted anyway. Here it is, you can do a taste and compare. It's a good excuse to have some more :)

  3. This is a very creative recipe for your vegetarian version of this dish, Mango. Your background into it was also very interesting. Intolerance is truly unacceptable; I think those caterers should be called to task on that. As a vegetarian for more than 30 years, I always tell people, "Hey, it's my problem." 'Nuf said.

  4. I dont' know what to say...a part from the fact that your recipe looks good :-). These things happen to vegetarians, a cup of tea may not be much for consolation, I know, but at least apologies have been made, a step forward...probably in the UK there are so many vegetarians now that you can expect vegetarian options, but in many other countries we are still considered the 'fussy' eaters.

    In regard to racism, well, it is 'illegal' in many countries. And it is certainly not PC to make jokes about races, gender, sexual preferences, and religion, but you can still make jokes about vegetarians. Our only strength is that we may actually belong to one or all of the above groups in any given country!

    Mistakes? They can be sincere. The last time they gave me meat was in an Indian restaurant, I ordered something from the vegetarian menu, the waitress asked me if I was vegetarian, and knowing all that she still gave me the chicken curry. I don't know what was funniest, my face when I swallowed it, or my father in law, who was happily eating my chickpea croquettes convinced that he was eating chicken croquettes!!!
    Of all places I didn't expect an Indian restaurant to make this kind of mistake, especially when among the 5 diners the only meat eater was my father in law. We swapped. I didn't bother complaining because he would have been embarrassed (knowing the type), and I felt for the waitress...but golly the taste was awful!!! It made me realize that I really appreciate not eating birds!!

  5. These eggs look and sound interesting! I love eggs and mushrooms, what a great combination, YUM!

  6. Well I didnt know what a scotch egg really was until now, i would have guessed it was just the egg with the breadcrumbs. I was super annoyed my bfs mum and sister gave me asparagus cooked in butter and didnt tell me until after christmas lunch! grrr
    Anyway your mushroom version sounds great (for egg eaters). My dad made crumbed pumpkin for dinner tonight, have you heard of it before? i hadnt, but it was actually quite tasty.
    Hope you have a nice new years :)


  7. Your eggs sounds delicious. We have quite a high proportion of muslim kids at the college where I work and all the meat is Halal and lots of suitable choices. I would have also complained, that is a terrible mistake!

  8. how sad to hear of such offensive behaviour - I remember working with a jew as a young woman and being surprised to hear her talk about anti-semitism in Melbourne - I think it is easy not to see it when it doesn't affect you. I like the sound of your pate though I don't like the taste of eggs so I would prefer it without them

  9. Thank Pam.

    Thanks for you comment Jacqueline and your recipe link. I must admit I have seen your recipe and it does look good.
    For me, if people just take a step back and 'think' once in a while - how hard is it really.

    Thank you Barbara.
    I understand where your coming from with your approach of "Hey, it's my problem." - but it shouldn't be that way.

    Oh Alessandra,
    It's okay, sometimes - just let me vent. I really do appreciate your time in commenting back and sharing your observations and experiences too. I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. We/Vegetarians and Vegans are many and belong to many different 'ethnic' groups.

    Thanks Oraphan. There are many versions of 'vegetarian' scotch eggs.

    I think if you lived in the U.K you would know what a scotch egg was, but I am glad you now know,not that you would have touched it of course.
    I am sorry to read about you bfs mum and sister knowingly giving you asparagus cooked in butter, when it could have easily been done in olive oil. That is really poor behaviour from potential future-in-laws. Sometimes, some people just need more time to be educated, but that itself is a two way process, they have to be willing to learn about you too, its not all one-way. Just stick to your principles, and if you must take your own food, eventually it will sink in that you are a vegan and vegans do not consume any meat or animal by-products.

    I have a vague idea what a crumbed pumpkin is, but not 100%, so would be curious to hear more.

    Hi Sparkly,
    Thank you. This incident happened at a workplace in a multicultural city Birmingham, which I think is just as culturally diverse as Manchester, that is another reason as to why I was stunned when I read the article on-line. If there is one place caterers would be culturally sensitive to peoples diets - religious or not, places like B'ham, Manchester and London would feature high on the list, but I guess I am wrong. Its good to read about your workplace making some positive steps though.

    Hi Johanna,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I appreciate it. I'm not a big one for hard boiled eggs either, but just had to give this a go.

  10. I love scotch eggs with pork, although I haven't eaten one for years but I do like the sound of your vegetarian option, great idea. Nice Blog, it reminded me of when I was a kid and we had an allotment too! Luckily I live in NZ and there is more space so I have my own herb terracing, no veggies yet as I can't keep up with the bugs ;o)

  11. Thank you so much for your comment peasepudding.
    Yeah, beasties and bugs are a bit of a problem with gardening. Have a happy New Year.

  12. I would have terminated the contract with that caterer, too! Apart from their act being offensive and insensitive, which is a big deal in itself, I mean if they can't get something that basic, how can they be trusted with food alergies etc? x is allergic to peanuts - no, i'm sure they won't notice if we put in just a bit.... ehm....

    Having said that, I'm very impressed with your version of the scotch egg! Lovely!

  13. Thank you Maninas.
    Your right many places sometimes just don't care even when they are notified of dietary needs or allegies. Its appauling in this day.

  14. Ewww, do they really do the pork thing to muslims?
    I wouldn't have ANY clue what a scotch egg is if I were at the event.

  15. These things still happen thoughtsthatdance, as this incident demonstrates.

    Sadly these Muslim workers didn't have a clue either. But the mistake was really of the organisers who had labelled the food product wrongly.

  16. Thanks so much for the delicious recipe for veggie scotch eggs. They are beautiful. Will now scour your lovely blog for many more recipes. 10/10. Regards, Kevin and Chris (Shropshire)

  17. Well Thank you so much Kevin and Chris,
    Your comment is really most appreciated. I am always pleased to find comments on old posts.
    Once again, Thank you.


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