The Mysterious Origins Of Scotch Eggs

Ah, the old Scotch egg, a traditional dish and modern favorite of the United Kingdom with a particularly fascinating history. Often found in pubs and bars, they make for delicious appetizers and comforting snacks.

But what exactly is it? A Scotch egg, according to Betty Crocker, is essentially a hard-boiled egg coated in pork sausage and a mixture of breadcrumbs and seasoning. It is usually coated in an egg and flour mixture to be deep fried or baked.

According to Britannica, Scotch eggs have their own flair depending on where they are in the world. They are served similarly to mozzarella sticks in the United States, often alongside ranch or marinara sauce (via Food52). Scotch eggs have been given a new flare by chef Matt Abergel of Yardbird in Hong Kong, who substitutes the sausage with chicken, soaks the eggs in tare sauce, and tops the finished eggs with shredded cabbage, Kewpie mayo, and lemon juice (via Yardbird's official website). They've even been served as breakfast food, topped with bacon and cheese, and potatoes mixed into the sausage breading.

By its name, you may assume that the Scotch egg first arose in Scotland, or was perhaps first served with a nice cold glass of Scotch, but its original whereabouts actually have varying stories.

Where were Scotch eggs actually born?

The first possible origin of the Scotch egg dates back to 1738 at a London department store known as Fortnum & Mason. According to Britannica, it was said to be created as a luxury delicacy for wealthy travelers. A conflicting theory suggests that the egg originated in a Yorkshire town called Whitby in the 19th century, per Culture Trip. First known as "Scotties," they are said to be named after their inventors, William J Scott & Sons. Due to the town's proximity to the coast, this recipe initially called for a fish paste coating instead of sausage.

A different theory claims that the Scotch egg was developed much further south, somewhere in North Africa. This version of the recipe called for a coating highly saturated with cloves and spices and the name is said to be an evolved version of the word "scorch" according to The Guardian. It is presumed that the recipe traveled back to Britain during Queen Elizabeth I's reign, as the first recording of the recipe was documented around this time. 

Yet another theory says that Scotch eggs have roots in India, dating back to the late 17th and early 18th century (via The Straits Times). Nargisi kofta, a hard-boiled egg coated in spicy minced meat, is rumored to have been introduced to the U.K. via soldiers who occupied India at the time.

Despite its mysterious origins, the Scotch egg remains a delicious treat to add to your recipe book.