Trend watch: time to hash in?
Hash was traditionally served as a way of utilising leftovers and became popular during the Second World War, when rationing severely limited the availability of fresh meat. When rationing ended, the calorific mixture of chopped meat, potatoes, spices, onions and culinary jetsam saw a steep decline in popularity, probably because it reminded people who’d previously enjoyed it of being bombed by the Germans.
Let’s be honest, the dish doesn’t exactly scream “sex appeal” as it does “hungover students who can’t cook”. However, a few brave British chefs are doing their bit to inject the age-old recipe with a hefty dose of innovation, putting hash back on the menu.
James Moyle Rosser, executive chef at seven-site pub group Whiting & Hammond, recently won the Best New Dish award at Restaurant Magazine’s Development Chef Awards for his gourmet take on corned beef hash.
“It’s not a refined dish,” says Rosser. “But it’s great comfort food with loads of flavour and great textures.
Rosser’s corned beef has is served with duck eggs and sautéed cabbage. “The general perspective was that it was something that comes in a can. We wanted to bring it back onto menus and do it right.
“We get brisket in then cure it for two to three weeks in salt solution and brine, turning it every morning. Then we cook it for about 12 hours. Once the preparation’s done it’s quick to put together. It’s on all the menus at Whiting and Hammond sites since it won that award.”
London café HashE8 serves several different varieties of the dish, including beetroot and sweet potato hash with kale, poached eggs, hollandaise and umami dust, chorizo, black pudding, sweet potato and spinach hash and hash benedict, with homemade hash browns, kale, poached eggs, umami dust and salad.
“You can put anything together really – that’s the best thing about it,” says HashE8 co-owner Maria O’Sullivan. “You can combine any ingredients and make it work for your customers.
“The prepping is the only thing that takes time. It’s a very American influenced dish – we found it was huge when we visited there.”
O’Sullivan says hashes can be as if not more popular than standard breakfast options on any given day. “The hashes sell really well – it started off as a vegetarian option but everyone adds bacon.”
And at Noble Inns’ executive chef Neil Rankin’s concept diner Bad Egg, at City Point, London, the menu features a selection of extravagant hashes, including a nduja, black pudding and pork belly hash, a Korean-style pulled pork and kimchi hash with gochujang and a crispy egg and cheeseburger hash, which contains all the constituent parts of a cheeseburger “smashed” with fries and a fried egg.