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Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

A rayu of sunlight

I think they’re gonna stop sending me to the shops. Last Saturday, I was tasked with visiting our nearest food and drink emporium with instructions to gain supplies to see us through the weekend. However, it came with a with a caveat: “Don’t go mad. Just get the essentials.”

What Herself might as well have said was, “Fup the essentials. Go mad.”

I suppose it’s a fault in me, this inability to refrain from food purchases, especially when said food looks tasty and/or could be coaxed into becoming tastier through some cunning cookery.

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On Saturday the “essentials” turned out to be quails eggs, artichokes, cheddar made from raw cow’s milk, bacon, vintage cider and imperial IPA. In hindsight, I may have gone a tad off piste with the groceries.

“Where’s the butter and the toilet roll?” came the wide-eyed demand upon my return to the homestead. “You didn’t get milk either. Or bread. What are you going to do with ruddy quail’s eggs?”

“Get off my back, right,” I thought but didn’t say. I realised there was scant chance of defending tiny eggs which, though tasty, wouldn’t fill a hole in a fairy’s tooth.

“What are we gonna have for Sunday dinner?”

“A small omelette?”

“Clown. It’s a wonder you did come home with three magic beans?”

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“Now that you mention it…”

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“Get back into that car and go buy something for Sunday dinner.”

“I will not. You’re not the boss of me.”

“Is that right?”

In the end we agreed to disagree and by a convenient twist of fate, my sister Donna came to the rescue.

I was busy googling, “What to do with quails’ eggs and bacon?” when a message arrived on my phone from Donna to say she planned on calling to drop off a late birthday present and would I be in. Some time later, we were all standing outside chatting in a responsible, socially-distanced way, with me clutching a bag of foodie goodies.

As well as a huge sugar pit cured beef brisket (which sorted out Sunday dinner) and half a dozen chilli and fennel Italian sausages, Donna also gifted me a jar something I had hitherto not known existed: Peanut rayu.

As I may or may not have mentioned in the past, I’m a big fan of condiments and so I was intrigued by this new addition to the collection.

Made by Dublin company, White Mausu, this peanut rayu is, according to the label, “a condiment (which) fuses Japanese, Chinese and Korean flavours with echoes of umami.” Luckily, the label also proferred a few suggestions on how to eat peanut rayu such as in a stir fry, with eggs or on avocado on toast. The text further suggested, “Rumour has it it’s great with a steak or (shhh!), just eat straight from the jar.”

This White Mausu crew are people after my own heart!

As soon as Donna left, I sprang straight into the kitchen for a spoon.

“You’d think he never got fed,” Herself muttered to one of the little humans but I paid them no heed.

Heady with sesame, crunchy with the peanuts, spiky with chilli and seriously pungent, I spooned several dripping loads into my gaping maw. Another glance at the label confirmed my suspicions: There was stuff in here I’d never even heard of, to wit, gochugaru and tamari – not two ingredients you’re likely to find at many food and drink emporiums.

The next morning, following White Mausu’s other, sounder advice, I decided to have avocado on toast and also, scrambled eggs on toast, separately. Sourdough on both counts, each was assigned a healthy dose of the peanut rayu and both – to a morsel – were devastatingly delicious. Washed down with copious amounts of coffee, it was one of the most memorable breakfasts I’ve enjoyed in years. Like a new chilli sauce except with added depth, plenty of texture and lots of zing, peanut rayu is like a distillation of an eastern sunrise.

I’m already thinking about heeling a few tablespoons of the stuff over hot noodles for supper tonight or maybe using as a dip for tenderstem broccoli.

“Is your scwambled eggs made from the wee, tiny eggs,” the smallest little human enquired, seeing the plate in the picture.

“Ahhh, no,” I replied, mentally slapping my forehead with the palm of my hand. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about the quails’ off-spring.

“I’m saving them for when the tooth fairy comes calling,” I said by way of flimsy excuse. “I hope she doesn’t come when she’s hungry.”

The cheek!

Just in case you’re interested in ramping up your hen (or any kind of) eggs, White Mausu’s peanut rayu is available from their online shop, www.whitemausu.com

Fup the essentials. Go mad.

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