Hopefully you are eating something local and celebrating St.Pirans Day in style. No culinary plans? Why not try chef Sanjay Kumar’s Cornish recipe for chip shop battered Hogs pudding and St.Pirans special of criss-crossed Pilchards.
When it comes to reminiscing about the glorious past of Cornish feeding habits it is very hard to ignore the roll of the Pasty in shaping the diets of millions. Not everyone who had something to do with Cornwall was very well off to afford the delicacy of the Pasty though; the clever Bal maidens and fishwives and farmer’s better halves had to come up with unique ideas to create dishes which wet the appetites and curiosities of the hard working Cornish folk. Take for instance the Hoggan, once a common favourite, made deftly with flour, water (pastry) and a bit of green pork (home cured, mostly salted), good enough to be taken underground as a main meal.
This unusual, rather calorie-dense dish called “Ewn Gompes” (Proper Jobs mentioned by Pamela Pascoe, in “Cousin Jennie’s Cornish Cookbook), popular in some parts of Cornwall during the eponymous St.Piran’s Day celebrations on the 5th March. Pamela tells us to firstly make a thick coating batter of 3 tablespoons of flour, one whole egg, a little bit of milk, chopped parsley and seasoning to taste. Next peel the outer casing from the Hog’s pudding (peeling optional, personally I like it without the skin) and slice the sausage into thin coin shape slices. Dip the puddings in batter and fry in hot oil. Delish!
As the Cornish travelled in search of bread and solitude around the world, the spirit of celebration on the Pirantide varied colourfully from processions to flag hoisting, pasty munching to pasty hurling (a certain town in America is famed for the Pasty Olympic event, where losers of the competition are thrown sportingly into a paddle pool full of tomato ketchup!)
Of course St.Piran is the patron Saint of Tin Miners and is also generally acknowledged as the National Saint for Cornwall. The Cornish flag, which is a white cross on a black background is the St.Piran’s flag. The flag came about when St.Piran was allegedly lighting a fire on his black hearthstone, which was evidently a slab of tin-bearing ore. The heat caused smelting to take place and tin rose to the top in the form of a white cross signifying the image on the flag. This inspires me to create “St.Piran’s Bite” an open sandwich of crisscrossed Cornish sardines, on a bed of tomato and rye bread.
Ingredients (to serve 2):
1 Can Cornish sardines preserved in oil (4 fillets)
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly
4 slices wholegrain Ryr bread, toasted
French rocket leaves
Drain the sardines and place into a small bowl. Kept the oil aside. Toast the slices of Rye bread, top with sliced tomatoes and warm them under the grill. Place the sardines criss-crossed on the toast and serve with rocket leaves drizzled with oil from the sardine can.
This recipe for written for the next edition of Cornish Story magazine. Get your online copy here: http://www.cornishstory.com/magazine.html