James May: Oh Cook! (2020–2023): Season 1, Episode 6 - Breakfast - full transcript

Breakfast is back in vogue and more varied than ever. Bloody Mary in hand, James begins by making kedgeree. This lightly curried dish of flaked, smoked fish in rice was a favourite of the British Raj. James tops it with a poached ...

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Hello, viewers.
I'm James May, and I can't cook.

Welcome to my cookery show.

♪ ♪

This time, it's breakfast.

There are eggs,

and sacred Japanese knives.

I have a big one as well.
And a fruit knife. Mm.

But that doesn't even begin
to cover it,

because there's much, much more.

And I've burnt the bottom
of the pan, and I don't

really know how to cook fried
eggs, but apart from that,

everything's gonna be
absolutely fine.

As I come up
with a heaving hostess trolley

of ideas on how to get your day
off to a delicious start.

Good morning, viewers.

Whatever time you're watching
this, it is morning.

That's why I have
the Bloody Mary, and...

we're going to make breakfast.

And we're going to start
with kedgeree.

It's a smoked fish and rice dish

that hails,
we are told by history,

which is largely bunk,
from India,

from the Mughal emperors
and that sort of thing.

It was originally made
with rice and lentils.

Then fish was added.

Fish was added for breakfast

because the fish
was caught fresh.

It wouldn't keep during the day,
so it had to become something

you had
at the start of the day.

And then it came over to Europe

and specifically,
it came to Britain.

It became corrupted
with boiled eggs,

sultanas, cream,
all sorts of things.

We're going to make
a properly rustic version.

It starts with a beautiful piece
of smoked haddock.

And you put that in this skillet
and I cover it with water.

We're going to poach it.

Make sure it is covered

otherwise it won't cook evenly.


Well, that doesn't matter.
You don't need to s...

That's just the sort of thing
that happens.

Get a grip, you lot.

You cover it entirely
with the water.

The thing to remember, and this
is what everybody forgets,

when the fish is cooked, you
want to keep the fishy water,

because that is essential
to the preparation of the rice.

Millions and millions of people
have gone... [exhales sharply]

Bugger. Ruined.

[stove clicking]

That is going to poach.

Won't take very long
once the water's up to boiling.

Meanwhile, this is all gonna be
done in the same pan,

we need to, rather predictably,
chop an onion.


I love that thing.

The other ingredients: butter,
50 grams of that.

I'm only going to use half of it
to soften the onion.

The other half goes
into the final mixture.

We have 110 milliliters
of basmati rice.

We have hot supermarket
curry powder.

We're gonna use
about a teaspoon.

There is a lemon,
which will be added at the end.

There is some flat-leaf parsley.

And there is a Bloody Mary.

This is coming to the boil.

In fact, it's coming to the boil
slightly too vigorously.

I'll turn it down.
That, I would expect,

to take about eight minutes.

While we're waiting,
have a slice of history.

Breakfast is, of course, the
most important meal of the day,

but that's a relatively
recent conceit.

In the Middle Ages,
breakfast as we know it

didn't really exist.

The Catholic Church
was not very keen on it,

because it was seen
by people like,

uh, Thomas Aquinas,
for example,

as part of the sin of gluttony.

Waking up,
having done nothing constructive

or even devotional yet,
and stuffing your face.

You broke your fast,
which is where we get the word

"break-fast," "breakfast," after
you've been to morning Mass.

Now then, haddock.


Steamy lens.

We're gonna need the lid
for cooking the rice.

Absolutely essential.
Took less than eight minutes.

It took only about five
and a half minutes to do that.

Five and a half minutes
from boiling.

It's a lovely color.
Look at that.

The whole thing is going to be
a lovely color, actually.

The haddock can go
into the warming drawer.


What did I say? Save the water.

A jug, we're going to need
225 milliliters of it.

The fishy water is going to be
used for boiling the rice.

Melt half the butter and add
the onion, cooking until soft.

Then add the teaspoon of
curry powder, mixing thoroughly.

And it's cooking,
and the room now smells

of all the spices of India, and
it's absolutely fantastic. Good.

Let us add the rice.

And just before I put
the fishy water in,

I'm just gonna give that
a quick stir so that I know

spiciness and oniony goodness
is coated on the rice.

Spread it out evenly
across the bottom of the pan.

Add... yowzers,
the still fairly hot water.

- [sizzling]
- Oh, listen to that.

Oh, that's already looking nice.

And the trick here
is to give it one stir,

just to make sure everything
is in the water

and then lower the heat, 'cause
you only just want it simmering.

And put the lid on
and leave it alone.

This should serve two people
quite heartily.

This can simmer on low heat
for 15 minutes

until all the liquid
is absorbed.

Everything seems to be going
swimmingly, doesn't it?

But this was not the case
a little earlier,

because what happened
a little earlier... was this.

It's supposed to be hash,

a classic one-pan dish of
fried meat, potatoes and onion.

So, dear viewer,
I'm going to show you

how to do something by showing
you how not to do it.

We are making a hash.

In this case,
it is a black pudding hash.

You don't have to use
black pudding.

You could have, of course,
used corn beef.

That's the traditional one.

You could make it with mushrooms

if you wanted
a vegetarian option.

You could make it
with something I've had,

which is vegan black pudding,
which is made with beetroot,

and... and I'm not joking
when I say this...

it is delicious.

The other ingredients are:
a potato,

some chopped-up onions,
as usual,

chopped with a chopper-upperer.

You will need a chili.

I'm gonna use half of that,
so that I don't kill anybody.

Uh, we're going to have
some parsley

to garnish it and to give it
a bit of flavor,

and we're going to serve it
with fried eggs.

First, I want to try this.

It's an electric potato peeler.

Here we go.

It even stops by itself.

That is superb.

Mechanically-peeled potatoes,
quartered by hand

with a knife.

Time for gadget number two.

Here we go.


It's good.

It's outstanding.
I need another word, quick.

Anybody got one?

It's awesome.

First we need to Cate Blanchett
these a bit

in this water which I have
already got nice and hot...

...for about four minutes.

Let's think about
the black pudding.

I will chop this up
into little bits.

But remember, it's a hash.

The clue is in the name.
It's a hash.

It will all be
hashed up together.

Let's get to work on the chili.

Chop that up
into itty-bitty pieces.

Remember to make sure the pan
is hot when you start cooking.

I'm forgetting, of course, that
this is a cast-iron skillet,

it takes a bit longer to heat up
than the other pans

I've been using.

Potato blanching is complete.

It's important that the chunks
of potato aren't too big.

I think those chunks of potato
may actually be a bit too big.

I should have done them
in both directions

through the chipper device.

But it's too late, really.
I'm not gonna go in there

with a knife and deal with them

What we're going to do
is fry up this mixture.

Big chunks of potato into hash
do not go.

And this is the start
of all my woes.

Potatoes are quite firm.

Let's put the chili in.

Remember to keep
stirring the pan.

Trying to fix one error
can lead to more.

This is a tool for separating
the cauliflower from the root.

It's also the ideal tool
for going around

and chopping up
that potato a bit.

If pan stirring stops,
a crust of burnt potato

may form at the
bottom of the pan

and take all the heat, and your
spuds will never crisp up.

Still not browning, though.
It should go browning now.

I'm gonna put the black pudding
in as well.


Looks absolutely disgusting.

It's one of the worst things
I've ever seen.

The surface of the potato that
you would expect to go brown

is there, but it's stuck
to the skillet,

rather than still appearing
on the potato.

The second element of the dish
is a fried egg.

Again, make sure
the pan is hot enough.

Too early. I'm making
a total horse's ass of this.

I think I didn't quite blanch
the potatoes for long enough,

and I've burnt the bottom
of the pan, and I don't

really know how to cook fried
eggs, but apart from that,

everything's gonna be
absolutely fine.

I'm really looking forward
to seeing

how Nikki reacts to this,
'cause she'll try

and be polite about it
and go, "Hmm, mmm,"

and then try
and say something interesting.

And all the time
she'll be thinking,

"That is dia-bloody-bolical."

I'm embarrassed, frankly.

So I'm gonna make a small pile.

I mean, it just,
that looks vile.

- [laughter]
- Look at it.

That's a good fried egg, though.

Come on, there's nothing wrong
with that.

Oh, I'll just put a bit
of parsley on the top.

- Um, your-your hash is served.
- [Nikki] Oh.

The plate is hot.
Would you like some brown sauce?

[Nikki] Yes, please.

Tastes like black pudding
and potatoes. And chili.

- Are the potatoes cooked?
- Yes.

Possibly would've cooked them
a little bit more

to get them crispy.

Well, this is the thing.
I-I did try to cook them

to make them crispy,
but the pan went crispy

rather than the potatoes.

- Oh, no.
- Sorry.

- It's okay.
- I'll-I'll clean it for you.

[James] I'm going to try it,

because I just think
you're being polite.

Doesn't taste of anything.

It's rubbish.

- I...
- Don't try this at home.

- [mouths]
- You should never say anything
anybody cooks is rubbish

because it's very kind of you
to cook it for me.

That's incredibly generous.

But wrong.

So, that's in the bin.

But it's also in the book,
but don't worry,

so are things
like this and even this.

But now,
it's back to kedgeree...

...and flaking poached haddock.

Flaky fish, no skin.

Once the rice is cooked,
add the rest of the butter

before putting in the fish.

We're gonna stir this
all together, and try

not to do it too aggressively

because you don't want
to break the fish up too much.

You want it to remain flaky.

Makes it look nicer,
and it'll make it feel nicer

in your mouth as well.

Let's add the lemon juice.

That's half a lemon's worth.

Then the flat-leaf parsley.

Big, sharp curved knife
so you can rock it around.

This looks great, doesn't it?
Look at that.

Then I'm gonna put the lid on
for just a few minutes.

Make sure everything
is warmed through.

I think this would be nice

if it were served in a bowl with
a poached egg in the middle.

The problem with that is,

we enter the great
poached egg debate.

So enormous is this debate
and so important to the progress

of humankind and global peace,

that we're going to make it
a separate segment.

- Morning.
- Morning. Would you like

- to come to work on an egg?
- I would.

[James] Egg poaching.

Everybody has
an opinion on this.

Mine is that I use what is
probably an egg coddler,

strictly speaking, one of those
old... it is old, in fact... pans

with the two little plastic cups

that sit in it
and you pour the eggs in

and they come out looking
like the breasts

of Botticelli's Venus.

Other people say you should do
it directly in the water

with some vinegar, because
that helps the white to stiffen.

- Yes.
- Is that correct? And that
you should create a vortex.

Anyway, I've got
a gadget, Nikki,

that I would like to try out.

This is new, it arrived today,
and that goes in the water.

- Apparently, yes.
- Like that.
It looks like a diabolo.

[James] It does look a bit
like a diabolo, yes, the...

- [Nikki] Like that?
- Yes, but you... we need

to fill it up a bit, because
the water should come up

to that there...
there's a little fill line.

I don't know if you can see it.

There's a little wiggly line...

So I'm dying to see
if this works.

The water is boiling.
Here is the egg.

Here we go.

- [Nikki] Ooh.
- Oh, it went through.

[Nikki] An egg cage.

It is. It's like the things
that divers use

when they want to go
and look at sharks.

Should we do a vortex?
Do you want to

- have a go at the vortex?
- Yes.

We've got some white vinegar.
Don't use brown vinegar.

Brown vinegar is what makes the
poached egg taste all vinegar.

See, I would say, since we're in
the northern hemisphere,

you should've made the water
go round clockwise, but...

it may not be relevant.

Right. We've done
three minutes exactly

on egg one
in the newfangled device.

You've done half a minute
in that one.

So if I'm gonna make a bowl
of kedgeree and get ready

to serve that one,
do you have a slotted spoon?

Does it look good?

Okay, that first egg is ready.

- It's safe to hold that.
- Ooh, look.

[James] Has it work...
it has worked, hasn't it?

That looks pretty good.
Let's have this one in there

and you can try this,
this is your kedgeree.

What about
the old-style vortex method?

I don't think it looks too bad,
that one.

[James] It looks
exactly the same.

Perhaps it's not the global
issue I thought it was.

At any rate,
breakfast is served.

And as the old
chat-up line goes,

"How do you like your eggs
in the morning?"

Well, I like mine poached,
with kedgeree.

- Right. Please.
- This looks delicious.

The egg is good.

- Mmm.
- It's got a bit of a kick

- on it, hasn't it?
- It has, but I approve of that.

- It's really nice.
- Mmm.

I think that's better
for not having milk

or cream or any
of that nonsense in it.

- Cleaner.
- Cleaner. Good word.

[James] Perfect poachy.

It's rice and it's spice.

And it's come down to you
from the Mughals of India

in ancient times.

And here it is,
going in my mouth, so thank you.

And as you enjoy
the runny egg close-up,

I've been thinking,
what happens

when I want to have a
subtly spiced exotic breakfast,

but I haven't
had a chance to get

to the shops the night before?

Well, that's why we have a
"store cupboard savior" sting.

This time,
the "store cupboard savior"

is about what do to
when all you have to your name

are some eggs
and a tin of tomatoes.

We are now going
to make shakshuka,

which is a Tunisian-Arabic word
meaning "all mixed up."

Yet despite that, this dish
is most readily associated

with Israel, where it is
a bit of a staple.

So there's a massive row
that's broken out

in the Middle East
about who owns shakshuka.

Well, for the moment, we own it,
here in this kitchen.

It's vegetarian, not vegan,
but it is vegetarian.

The ingredients are
a bell pepper, already chopped,

a medium onion, already chopped,
a tin of tomatoes,

some coriander, some eggs,
paprika, cumin and chili powder.

The only thing
that hasn't been preprepared

are the two garlic cloves,
and for this,

I'm going to use
my very, very precious

Japanese knife.

As well as high-performance

the Japanese make
high-performance knives.


They are sharper and lighter
than European rivals,

but their thinness makes them
more easily blunted.

I have a big one as well.

And a fruit knife. Mm.

I'm gonna do this in
two methods. I'm going to...

I'm gonna crush that one,
but this one,

since I've got my exquisite
Japanese knife out,

I'm gonna be cutting
very, very thin slices.

You're gonna use your fingernail
as a guide,

moving it back minutely
each time.

Rest the edge of the knife
against your fingernail.

And go down, but whilst
you're doing that, remember

to retreat your thumb
at the same time,

otherwise, eventually,

the end of your thumb
will be with the garlic.

Right. Let's start with onions.

Sizzle, sizzle. That means
the oil's nice and hot.

And the peppers.

Next, add the vodka in a jus
of tomato and celery.

I do like a good Bloody Mary,
but I find

I get this pain
in my left eye when I drink it.

Can you see this?

That's rather marvelous.
It looks like pop art.

I'm gonna say that's done.

It's an excellent garlic
squasher, this, I have to say.

This is, uh, Nikki's.

It manages to squash the garlic

but push the skin bit up
the side of the plunger

and extract it.

Very, very good.

Excellent, in fact.

Here goes the rest
of the garlic. That's simply...

thinly sliced,
rather than crushed.

Little bit of a stir around.

Let's add our spices.

Two teaspoons of paprika,

one of cumin
and a half of chili powder...

Right, so we're gonna cook this
for a minute or two because that

will bring the flavors
out of the spices.

...before adding
the most abundant

of store cupboard staples,
a can of tomatoes.

Yeah, we have to bash
these tomatoes up a bit.

We don't want them
in solid bits.

Right, I'm going to add
to that...

some of Nikki's white pepper,
of which she is a great fan,

and a little pinch of salt.

Tomatoes can taste
a bit sweet, I think.

Next, the eggs,
cooked in an unusual way.

- Nikki?
- Hello.

Would you mind joining in
for the egg moment?

- Egg moment.
- Yes.

What we have to do here
is make four little holes

in that mixture,
break an egg into each one,

and it will sort of part fry,
part poach,

- won't it?
- Yes. It will.

Um, so,
using the green spatula...

When you say, "a little well,"

- is that a little well?
- Yes.

Okay. So that's a little well.

- [Nikki] Mm-hmm.
- That's a little well.

- Yep.
- And that's a little well.

I dragged you out
of the cupboard unnecessarily.

I'm sorry about that.

Keep the wells open, please.

- It's coming in. Yeah?
- Yeah.

[James] Blam.

- In there.
- In the well.

♪ ♪

Covering lid can go on.

A bit of steam coming up
onto the lid and going down,

as in an egg coddler, will
make sure the top of the eggs

are cooking at the same time
as the bottom of the eggs.

That's it, isn't it?
Otherwise, you're left

with a rubbery bottom
and a soggy top.

- About eight minutes.
- About eight minutes.

More than enough time to chop
the coriander as a garnish.


- That looks great. Look at it.
- It does look fantastic.

- Yeah, smells great as well.
- Perfect.

I think it's time
for some toast, don't you?


I think it's time
for some toast, don't you?


It's like a toast dance.

And toast.


It's not ready.

And toast.

- [Nikki sighs]
- [bell dings]

- Ah.
- Bollocks.

- [Nikki laughs]
- Slightly underdone

by my, uh, standards;
I like burnt toast.

But I know you don't.
Quite a broad soldier,

so that you can scoop up...

which means "all mixed up."

[Nikki] Bit of egg.

Little bit of shakshuka.

The egg's still slightly runny.

- Mmm.
- It is absolutely meat-free.

But it has quite a meaty quality
to it, doesn't it?

It's extremely nice.

[Nikki] It's very good.

It's good. It's some
of the ingredients of a fry-up.

It's eggs, tomatoes,

onion... you'd have a bit
of onion in a fryer.

But we've added spices.

Coriander, which makes
everything in the world better.

And it's...
it's meat-free and healthy.

- Cheap, as well... I mean,
that costs nothing to make.
- Yes.

And quick.

And morale-boosting.

- Morale-boosting, definitely.
- Yes.

[James] So, there you go:

make shakshuka
and eat shakshuka.

It's delicious.

Now, so far we've sampled
exotic breakfasts,

but what about the good
old-fashioned boiled egg?

Well, if you think there's
nothing that could be done

to jazz that up, you'd be wrong.

This is an avocado,

or, as they used to be known
in the 1970s,

an avocado pear.

These days
they're just known as an avo.

And the fashionable thing to do
is to smash them,

but we're not going to do that.

We are going
to turn this avocado

into dippy soldiers
for a boiled egg.

And not only is this
very simple,

it's a very good way
of using an avocado that is ripe

but not properly soft yet.

This one's still a bit too hard.

So you could make guacamole
with it.

You could make these things
with it.

You couldn't eat it with a spoon
with some vinaigrette in it.

It would be just a bit too hard.

So, let's begin by...

chopping it in half,
using your very sharp knife.

Very carefully.
If you're lucky,

the cut will line up again
when you get to the other side,

like that.

If the stone is stuck in,

you can take a spoon...

spoon like that, put the point
of your sharp knife in...

give it a couple of taps,

rotate the knife...

and the stone will come out,
like that.

So, there are two ways
of getting the skin

off the avocado.
One is to cut one half in half,

thereby giving you a quarter,

and if you get your fingernail
under the end...

not the no-bendy end,
the other end...

you can usually...

tease like that,

with your thumb,

the skin away.

That's pretty perfect.

The other way of doing this,
um, is advocated

by somebody on the crew,

and allegedly... I've never
tried this, but let's see...

you can run the spoon

into the avocado.
Keep it tight to the skin.

Do you know what?
I think this might work.

It did, sort of.

Yeah, that's pretty good.


In half, and in half again.

Now we are going to add

prosciutto crudo,
which is this.

You can also get
prosciutto sofisticado,

but it is more expensive.

So stick with the cheap stuff,

because this is
just a tasty snack.

Cut each piece
of prosciutto crudo in half

with a sharp knife.

Take a strip of that,
take a piece of your avocado,

and wrap it.

Sort of a little bit
like pigs in blankets.

You know what I mean: the
things you have at Christmas.

A quick montage of me
swaddling avocado in ham.

Those will go in the oven

at 200 degrees for, I reckon,
around eight minutes.

But the trick is actually
to look through the door,

and when it looks like
crispy, streaky bacon,

they are ready,
and at that point,

we can take them out,
let them cool a bit,

and then worry
about boiled eggs,

which will cause an argument.

And the clock is running.

I have eight minutes, in which
I can make myself a Buck's Fizz,

which is the other acceptable
type of breakfast booze.

Do you put
the orange juice in first

or the fizz in first?

[cork pops]

I'm gonna make
an executive decision.

Orange in second.

I'll tell you what.

That's-that's fizz in first.

I'm sure Nikki's gonna want
one of these,

so let's make a second one
and put orange in first

and see if there's
any difference.

♪ ♪

That's fizzy.

Ah, no, I can see already:
the orange mixes better

if you put the orange in second.

So... there, there's
something that we've learned.

Every day is a learning day.

Buck's Fizz, fizz in first.

I'll give the decent one
to Nikki,

'cause otherwise,
everybody will say,

"You gave her the..."


No need to come out.

[Nikki] Oh, thank you very much.

- See you later.
- See you later.

We're going to boil eggs
in a minute.

I know a lot of you will have
opinions on how to boil eggs.

Nikki says that if you keep
your eggs out of the fridge,

which you should do anyway,
a room temperature egg

can go straight into boiling
water for exactly five minutes,

and it will be perfect.

Let's see if she's right.
Here we go.

Now, those have been in
for only seven minutes,

but actually, looking
through the door, they are done.

And I'm going to take them out
'cause they need

to cool off a bit, otherwise you
won't be able to pick them up

to dip them in the egg.

Let's get
two serving plates ready.

An egg cup on the plate.

♪ ♪

Your eggs-any-style are ready.

- Eggs-any-style?
- Yes.

In this case,
it's boiled-egg style.

Wow, they look good.

A boiled egg cooked
to your instructions,

with a pinch of salt,
and here are your avocado

and prosciutto dippy fingers.

Sorry, I keep forgetting that
you like a good luck clink.

All right, dip away.

[Nikki] Some salt for the top.


they taste like chips.

- [James] Do they?
- Mm, they're really nice.

They do taste like chips.

What's not to like?

They taste like... porky chips.

I think that's
a very sophisticated breakfast.

It's better than smashing them
up and putting them on toast

and charging 20 quid for them.

I think that's our conclusion,

- isn't it?
- I think so, too.

- Cheers.
- Cheers.

Take that, hipsters.

So, breakfast is served,

an opportunity
to experiment with an array

of ingredients and flavors
from all over the globe.

And if world peace
is ever achieved,

it will be over breakfast.

Well, I think that must count
as a success.

The kitchen is still intact,

and Nikki is still alive
in her cupboard.

Ten out of ten.

See you next time, cookers.