For the past 5 years I have been meaning to try a rare and expensive delicacy. A gastronomic delight that is so highly prized and in such short supply that up until this year I have failed to procure any. I am talking about gull eggs.
Now, I realise that eating the egg of a seagull might not be the most appealing prospect initially, but bare with me. These eggs are possibly the most expensive avian eggs, pound for pound, that money can buy and for good reason. First of all they are extremely hard to get hold of with only a couple of licensed “eggers”, who keep the locations of the nesting sites a closely guarded secret. It is my understating that in order to maintain the sustainability of these precious eggs that the issuing of new licences has ceased.
The eggs come from the Black-Headed Gull and the season is very short, lasting only around 3 weeks. The collecting of the eggs is very strictly regulated and the eggers only permitted to take one egg from each nest. In order to identify nests that have been harvested from, a pencil cross will be drawn on the remaining eggs. These eggs are so valuable that the nesting sites are fiercely guarded and eggers have been known to stay on guard through the nights to safeguard against foxes and other predators.
Because of the scarcity of these eggs they are not cheap. I have seen them for as much as £7.50 per egg in their raw state which is not inconsiderable considering that for that price you could buy three dozen quails eggs.
So what do they taste like? Well, you might be excused for supposing that they taste fishy, but this is a common misconception. They have no fishy taste whatsoever, so don’t be put off by this false impression. The whites are delicate and soft and almost melt in the mouth with no rubbery nature to them at all unlike other lesser eggs. The yolks are a vibrant and vivid orange colour, the texture is creamier and smoother than a hens egg and the taste richer. They are truly delicious. But are they worth the price of 2 pints? That I will leave for you to decide, all I will say is that I will without doubt enjoy these treats again.
To prepare the eggs they can be boiled for 3 to 3.5 minutes for a soft boiled egg or steamed for approximately 6 minutes then quenched in cold water to cease their cooking. For hard boiled add just another minute. They say that they are best served luke warm and I can recommend serving them with a little celery salt to dip them in and a side serving of piping hot boiled asparagus (which is in season at the same time conveniently) smothered in English butter and sprinkled liberally with coarse sea salt. Wash them down with a chilled bottle of your favourite English Sparkling wine and a more decadent celebration of Blightly you will not find.