The green walls of our tunnel tent glow, light shimmering and flowing in waves, the dawn chorus ebbing, reminding us that time is ticking by.
Waking up slowly in our cocoons of silk, down and nylon there’s delicious sense of lethargy; we’re slow to get moving.
Here, beneath stark basalt mountains on the Isle of Skye, the scent of sun-warmed earth and heather flows into the tent.
Still in our bags, there’s good-natured banter as to who has to leave the comfort of a warm bag to light our stove and get breakfast going.
Grumbling slightly, one of the team wriggles out of the tent, the fly taut with the heat from a cloudless sky, which is a rare and unexpected joy here in the far North West of Scotland, where one day of sunshine is a thing to be celebrated, especially in April.
Rucksacks lie in the lee of the tent, the pink loops of our climbing rope wedged underneath a lid, ready for todays scramble along beautiful ridges, the beams of sunlight shading the rock formations, calling to mind a Jacobs Ladder of sorts, ascending to the heavens.
Descending to the stream Vreni slides up a sleeve and fishes for the dry bag wedged between boulders and fill the kettle for a brew.
Inside, chilled in this makeshift fridge overnight are wild salmon fillets and hard boiled eggs, cooked the night before. Though the hue on the salmon skin is slightly muted, the flesh holds a dark pink hue, far removed from the pale colours of their farmed brethren. Coming across a farm yesterday added the final element of free-range eggs to this morning’s breakfast. Handing over cash to the farmer who raised the animals gives a far greater sense of human interaction than any chip and pin transaction in a supermarket. These type of exchanges are still an everyday occurrence in the area from which we get the other elements of our meal. Rice and spices from India markets mingled with the colonials addition of fish and eggs transforming the local dish of kichir into today’s kedgeree.
Though some Kedgeree recipes include curry powder, no self respecting Indian cook would ever resort to the vaguely brown powder sitting in a jar at the back of the cupboard. Use the mix below, or add to it as you will, the flavour will be far better than any pre made mix. Dried whole spices weigh little, and changing the quantities below can greatly alter the flavour of the recipe below so we encourage you to experiment.
Here are the two recipes for you to try on your next trip. If you don’t like a savoury breakfast then maybe the Cranachan might hit the spot instead – raspberries folded into cream flavoured with honey, whisky and toasted oatmeal.
Salmon fillets and Kedgeree recipe
2 cups long grain rice or a mix of long grained and wild rice
2 tbsp garam masala powder, or use the mix below:
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black onion seeds
1 tsp rock salt or sea salt
1 tsp pepper
2 organic duck or chicken eggs, hard boiled the night before and kept fresh in the drybag fridge
2 fillets wild salmon or trout
Chervil and coriander leaves
1 tbsp olive oil, butter, or ghee
Heat the ghee in a pan, when hot, add the spices and salt.
Cook the fish fillets, skin side down first until crisp then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes more, remove and leave to rest.
Rinse the rise in clean water, drain the excess starch and add clean water to the top of the rice, then one knuckle deep extra.
Bring to the boil, with lid on until fluffy, season.
Peel and chop the eggs.
Flake the trout fillets into the rice, add the eggs, tear the chervil and coriander leaves and mix well.
Cranachan, deconstructed recipe
2 tbsp wild heather honey
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp raspberries
4 tbsp strained yoghurt
Bring water to the boil, add the oats and cook.
You should have a thick mixture.
Add 2 tbsp butter to the mix, and stir in.
In a pan, heat up the other tbsp butter.
Spoon some of oatmeal into the pan and flatten down into thick disks.
Fry on one side, flip and fry again.
Spoon into bowls and top with yoghurt, raspberries and honey.
You can also make this dish with cream instead of yoghurt and add a tot of good Scottish Whisky if you feel like it.