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Squirrel Street Food Style: Satay and Sliders

Wild squirrel sliders, pickles and ketchup in home-made buns

Mister North and I have long had a slightly competitive game where we try to buy each other the oddest and most interesting  presents possible. This is why I own ice tongs and he once had his own jellyfish at London Zoo. So the bar was quite high last Christmas. I needed something for the foodie who has everything and the answer came to me when I found a company who can supply wild meat and I realised  Mister North would very much be the person to appreciate a brace of squirrel in his stocking…

Sense prevailed and I decided not to send him the beasts over the festive period in case they went a-wandering and sat in a depot somewhere if the weather was bad, but promised them at a time of his choosing. When he announced he was coming down to London last week for a bit of culture, we agreed this was the perfect time for Tufty to visit. We decided to try and do the squirrels different ways to get the maximum impact from what is a fairly small animal. Mister North suggested squirrel satay as soon as the present was mentioned and I then took a notion to do squirrel sliders and see if I could convince myself they are more than mini-burgers.

Although the satay was Mister North’s idea, I volunteered myself to make it so I could show off the satay skills I got after attending a Brunei Malay cooking class with Siti Merrett at Books For Cooks last summer. If, like me, you know little of this cuisine, I recommend Siti’s book Coconuts and Kelupis as both the beef in soya sauce and the satay are amazing. The following recipe is my version of her satay. The Malay version does not contain the coconut of Thai versions, so don’t be surprised not to see it. If you really like the creaminess of coconut, I guess you could add it. Try not to be scared by the list of ingredients, the recipe is actually very simple!

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Hash up!

I do a big shop every month or six weeks online with Sainsbury’s. As a non-driver, it’s actually cheaper and easier than getting a taxi with my bulky essentials and I find it easier to stick to a budget and avoid impulse purchases this way. Occasionally though I discover I haven’t been paying full attention when filling my basket and get the odd surprise. This time it happened to be a random tin of corned beef…

I contemplated keeping it in the cupboard until needed in a post-apocalyptic scenario, but not wanting to encourage 2012 to be the end of the world, I decided to use it up. None of my cookbooks offered any advice (Can you imagine Nigel Slater telling you what to do with anything tinned?) so I turned to Google. Even allowing for the fact that corned beef is different in the US, there seemed to be only one recipe on the agenda. Corned beef hash it was then!

I diced some potatoes and put them on to par-boil while I fulfilled a rather dubious childhood ambition to open a can of corned beef with the key provided. This moment of giddy joy was immediately quashed upon realising I had basically unleashed a can of premium catfood. I hoped that the judicious addition of mustard and Lea & Perrins would break the association.

The potatoes and onions went into a hot pan to crisp up round the edges and looked pretty darned tasty. I added in the diced beef and turned my attention to frying an egg. The beef began to melt and coat the vegetables evenly even if it did remain an odd pinkish colour. I reminded myself that anything involving fried spuds is a good thing and plated up.

This was surprisingly palatable. The rich egg yolk bound it together nicely and the mustard gave it a tasty kick that disguised just how mind blowingly salty corned beef really is. (Yes, I know that the corns of the name relate to salt not grains, but it still surprises me). I enjoyed this as a hearty Saturday brunch far more than I expected, but think it would be better if the beef was less prevalent and more like a dressing on the crispy potatoes. This would make it an excellent dish to feed about 6 people heartily without costing more than pennies. I’m not sure I’d bother cooking it again unless this scenario arose. Sadly I still have half a can of corned beef to use up though. Maybe I’ll feed it to the squirrels…