Isaac McHale: The chef of The Clove Club on racing crabs and eating testicles
My earliest food memory Racing large brown crabs across the kitchen floor with my dad. We'd buy them from our local fishmonger, MacCallums of Troon, in Glasgow. And the winning crab would get cooked first – and made into a Singapore chilli crab dish. Afterwards, my dad and I would take the inner claws from them, clean them and use them as devil horns come Halloween.
My favourite cookbook European Peasant Cookery by Elizabeth Luard. It gives the full gamut of soups, pickles, meat braises and every kind of common style of food across Europe, from Irish potato and parsley soup to Portuguese fish stew. So rather than looking at the Noma or French Laundry cookbooks – and trying to do something similar without copying – I'm looking for inspiration for my restaurant elsewhere, and this book is a great starting point.
My favourite restaurant I love how [Japanese noodle bar] Koya, in London, uses the same seasonal ingredients as I do, but through a Japanese lens instead. At the moment we have a wild Irish Pollan fish, smoked over cherry roots and served with chilled courgette soup. While Koya uses the same fish but ferments it with barley.
The weirdest thing I've eaten Chicken's testicles. I had them about a week ago when we were breaking down a whole chicken to produce a chicken-based tasting menu. I tried parts such as the parson's nose, the gizzard, and the testicles. They tasted delicious, like a chicken mousse.
My gastronomic guilty pleasure I grew up eating Pakistani food in Glasgow and chicken pakoras are a classic Glasgow takeaway item: I've always loved the lightly spiced, battered chicken, deep fried. The Indian restaurants in London tend to be Bangladeshi so you don't see so much of that dish in London.
My tipple of choice I love all forms of the Americano, served with bitter vermouth and a spritz of orange and soda water. Amaro means bitter in Italian, which is where the cocktail's name is derived from. It's a refreshing and not too strong aperitif, so a nice way to start a meal without killing the tastebuds with a super-strong cocktail.
Isaac McHale, 33, is the chef at The Clove Club, London EC1, thecloveclub.com
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