I invented something delicious in my kitchen yesterday, which is not something that happens very often. I like eating food, and reading and watching TV shows about food, but I am not a great chef. This invention, however, was so delicious that it made me feel like Marcus Samuelsson. It’s an eggs dish, a scramble, and totally simple. I’ll share the recipe with you so you can feel like Marcus Samuelsson, too. (It’s hardly worth the word “recipe,” in fact.) Do you like picked herring?
This invention arose, as Frank Zappa will tell you so many do, out of necessity. There was a problem, one that had started a few days earlier when I bought three house mustard herring filets at Shelsky’s smoked fish shop on Smith Street in Brooklyn. I’ve been really enjoying Shelsky’s since moving to Brooklyn from the Lower East Side, and so sadly far away from Russ & Daughters, last year. The whitefish they get from Door County, Wisconsin, is amazingly clean and creamy tasting, and the salad they make out of it, with new pickles already mixed in, is great. As have been all the smoked fish and pickled herrings I’ve tried — up till the house-mustard variety. It’s made with whole, bright yellow mustard seeds, and a lot of them, and looked very tempting sitting in its silver tray behind the glass of the display case. When I got it home, though, and put a slice on a cracker, I found it overwhelmingly sharp. I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, and one who appreciates big flavors, so this came as something of a blow to my ego. (Well, to the ridiculous extent that one’s palette becomes a point of pride — but it does, right?)
I put the tupperware tub in the fridge and didn’t get it out again for a few days. (While finishing all the other tupperware tubs I’d brought home along with it.) I didn’t know what to cut it with. What goes with pickled herring, really, other than crackers and other strong tastes like onions or horseradish? I don’t much like to put pickled herring on cream cheese — something about the sweetness rubs me wrong. I thought I might end up throwing it away — a shame, as I hate wasting food, and the fillets are $3.75 a piece.
Then, yesterday morning, I was wondering what to have for breakfast — single-handedly killing polar bears by staring into an open refrigerator — when I saw a carton of eggs, some leftover steamed asparagus from the previous night’s dinner, and the lonely, aging, mustard-pickled herring sitting in its clear-plastic tupperware like the Boy in the Bubble.
Eureka! It would be saved!
I scrambled three eggs (which means beating them in a bowl with a little milk, pouring them into a pot — better than a pan — over melted butter and doing as Kenny Shopsin said to in his lovely cook book, Eat Me, “Cook them slowly over a low fire and try to control yourself in terms of playing with them.”) I did not add salt, like I sometimes do if I’m having scrambled eggs on their own, but instead, while they were cooking, chopped four or five stalks of asparagus and one of the herring filets into small pieces. (Dice-sized pieces, roughly, so I guess I diced them.) When the eggs had just about reached the point of my preferred doneness (I prefer them “just right”), I clicked off the burner, added the asparagus and the pickled herring, mixed them in and scooped it all into a bowl. (I don’t know what would happened if you cooked pickled fish over a flame, but it seems ill-advised.)
Man, was it good! The rich, buttery eggs softened the mustard and brine of the herring just enough. And the asparagus added some bright, healthy green to the flavor. “Scandinavian Scramble,” I thought to call it. But the taste was still so big and bold, and, really, particularly Norwegian, as opposed to Danish or Swedish. (I’m making this up now, I don’t know the distinctions so well. I’m just making up a reason for myself to find a better name.) I figured it could stand up to something intense and powerful, the forces of darkness. So I went with Gorgoroth. “Eggs Gorgoroth.”
I made them again for lunch today. Yum.