Breakfast of champs!!!!!!!!!!! Although really anytime of day is a good time for hash. Spinach is not everyone’s breakfast go-to veg, but it adds a stack of vitamins and nutrients to any dish and the body loves few things more first thing. Give it a go, it might even start making an appearance on your cooked brekkies (or is that a step too far?!).
I always find it strange that the things we eat in the morning normally make an ace late night snack as well. Hash is proper Brit grub, which for me means it fills the belly after a long walk around our freezing terrains, either returning from a pub or recovering the morning after. After all, beer and Britain go together like beans and toast, pies and piccalilli, Wimbledon and Cliff Richard (Dad’s personal favourite). You catch my drift, historically British culture needed food that filled a whole, fueled our passion for hard graft and soaked up buckets of ale.
An evocative word for many reasons, culinary and otherwise. Foodie wise, the name hash comes from the French ‘hacher’ which means to chop. Hash is normally a wonderful receptacle for leftovers, alot like Bubble and Squeak. In Denmark they have a dish like hash called ‘biksemad’ which means, ‘tossed together food’. I think this is sums it up. In fact, most countries have a version of hash up their sleeves, ‘picadillo’ in Spain, ‘pyttipanna’ in Sweden and ‘tyrol’ in Austria. We love it!
Most people forget that Britain was once struggling and my grandparent and parents would eat things like hash primarily because they were quick and cheap. Hash is proper ‘poor mans’ grub but this, as we find all over the world, does not mean that its poor food. Hash is a brilliant way of turning cheaper bits and pieces into a hearty and satisfying meal. One chap has even release a cookbook dedicated to the mighty hash and high end restaurants are now doing fancy things with the hash medium.
Hash is something I was partially raised on. In the North East of England there are many varieties. To my mind, its loads of stuff fried together in a pan, with a potato stuck in their somewhere along the way if you like. Its proper British grub. I think the main thing with pan frying potatoes is to take it slowly and gently, try not to bash them up too much. Many people around the world add spice to their hash, in my neck of the woods, this is absurd. Hash is straight up and pure, not spice. I know that in the States they use the term hash for many differing dishes, some thick stews, some loads of minced meat fried. Well not it in the Beach House hombres, this hash is strictly plant but not lacking in substance and certainly not lacking in nutrition and taste.
I’m not totally blowing our trumpets here (….I am….) but vegans know their way around a nutritious, low saturated fat, nibble or two. As a kid, we used to have this with fatty bacon and probably a load of corned beef whacked in their. Maybe topped with a sausage or two. Corned beef was a constant companion to me, or Pek (like Spam, but I found it to be tastier). Strangely, last night I had a dream/ nightmare based around that jelly you find around the meat in a pork pie. The same jelly you find on Pek, aspic jelly that is a not-too-distant cousin of the jellyfish and seems quite a strange thing to find stuffed into a pie or coating food in general. It was oozing all over the place, like a B-Movie Monster….”Attack of the Aspic Jelly!”
THE SAUCY DEBATE – ARE YOU RED OR BROWN?
In Britain you’re either red or brown. There is no middle ground. The battles lines are drawn! Like the round heads or the royalists, labour or tory it is unwise to mix your allegiance. Welcome to our saucy world.
Now if you’re reading from anywhere outside of the U.K. this is going to all sound a little strange, but there is a timeless debate raging on these little islands about sauce. Brown sauce to be exact. Brown sauce is a phenomenon that has gripped Britain since the early 20th century. Frederick Gibson Garton came up with the recipe, a grocer from Nottingham. I’ve no idea how, but he thought that combining tomatoes, tamarind, dates, molasses and vinegar would appeal to the masses. It was a hit and apparently they served it in the houses of parliament, hence the name. HP is the original Brown Sauce, but there are many contenders (see below). HP was traditionally made in Aston near Birmingham, the factory is now closed. HP was originally called ‘snotrag’, a charming name taken from the founders name (Garton’s), late in the 60’s and 70’s it was called ‘Wilson’s Gravy’ due to the fact that Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister at the time, used to cover his meals with the stuff. HP now comes in a load of different varieties, but its still best out of the old glass bottle. Why is that?
BROWN SAUCE – CONTENDERS AND TASTING NOTES
Not all Brits are into HP. There are many options over here. As a child I was weaned on Daddie’s sauce, slighty more acidic and not quite as concentrated with a less pungent bouquet. The main attraction was the price I’d imagine. Chop sauce is another contender that seems popular in the North. My Uncle Brian swears by Chop. I like Chop. Its very thick and has a lighter flavour than HP. A good chip dipper. Having said all of this, for me, I opt for HP. Having been travelling most of my life, the sight of an HP bottle, with its ‘By Appoitment of Her Majesty The Queen’ and Big Ben embossed on the front, stirs a normally absent sense of nostalgia and reminds me of dinner time around my grandparents house. Its powerful stuff!
Brown sauce is a treat for us in the BHK, in fact Jane is more of a red sauce gal (Tomato Ketchup that is). I reserve a chilled bottle in the fridge for special breakfast times. Its highly processed and not what you’d call a healthy option. Full of salt and sugar. Its just one of those flavours that is so heavily linked with childhood memories. Its also vegan and there are precious few ‘childhood memory’ foods that can claim to be purely plant.
The key here is to cook the hash for a while, on a lowish heat and make sure everything is nicely caramelised. Stirring gently and regularly to ensure the potatoes don’t stick and remain in tact. Its a hash not a mash!
We’ve had a bash at home made HP sauce and homemade baked beans, but this morning Dad and I had a date with a beach walk. There are some brilliant recipes on the web for both of these things and of course, everything is better homemade right?!
I’ve made hash with firm tofu added before which makes it more substantial and of course brings a load of protein to the party. More filling for sure. Crumble some drained firm tofu (roughly 175g or half a block, will be enough) into the pan with the mushrooms.
There are an infinite amount of hashes to experiment with, use whatever veggies you have at hand and put it on toast. Eeeaaaaaaaaaassssssssssyyyyyyy!
The Bits – For 2
1-2 tbs cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil)
10 mushrooms – chestnut work well (roughly chopped)
2 small potatoes (cut into 1cm cubes, skins scrubbed and kept on)
1 small onion (finely diced)
4 massive handfuls of spinach leaves
1 teas balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and plenty of black pepper (to taste)
You favourite toast and lashings of baked beans
HP Sauce (the only way to go)
In a large heavy frying pan on a medium heat, add the oil, potatoes and onions. Coat well in the oil using a wooden spoon or spatula and continue to gently stir and cook for 10-15 minutes. The potatoes and mushrooms will now be nicely caramelised. Add the mushrooms and balsamic vinegar and continue to gently stir regularly and make sure the potatoes are not sticking, lower the heat slightly if you need to. (Now is a good time to heat your beans if you’re having hash and beans).
Cook for 5-7 minutes and then pile the spinach leaves on top, it will look like alot, but they cook down quickly. Stir the leaves into the hash and wait for them to wilt, after a couple of minutes, season well with salt and pepper.
Pop your toast in. As a vegan, you can buy some nice, natural olive oil spreads (like margarine, but without the nasties) or I just like to drizzle olive oil or good rapeseed oil on my toast.
Spoon the hash over your toast and surround with a steaming moat of beans. Add sauce in the quantity and location that you prefer and get stuck right in!
Spinach is one of the worlds most nutrient dense foods, all wrapped up in a tasty green leaf. Spinach boasts wild amounts of Vitamin K and A, it is also rammed full of a plethora of minerals like manganese, folate and iron. Eating spinach will help you against inflammations, cancer, caridiovascular problems and it gives a serious anti-oxidant boost to the body. Talk about starting the day on a good foot!
Buy vividly green spinach for greater levels of Vitamin C. If your spinach is wilting anywhere else than your pan, look elsewhere for your daily hit of wonder green leaves.
PS – You may have noticed that Dad is standing in for Jane, who is at this very moment, sunning herself somewhere on a beach in Spain. Sounds terrible. She is back next week to really get the BHK rocking.