Saturday, 9 July 2011

Minor Eggcenticities

Uovo in Camicia su Pane Tostato con Peperoni e Ajvar
Spicy Poached Egg on Toast with Shredded Pimiento and Ajvar

I am going to dedicate this little blog entry to my friend Mirko Reeh. It's nothing special, it's just a simple poached egg really... ok, it has a cool flavor combination going on, but what I really want to talk about is how the egg is poached. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to Mirko's cook studio yesterday for a photo-shoot. The man, and his assistant Nina are amazing! Within the space of less than three hours, they cooked up, before my very eyes, TEN recipes, which were all photographed, fresh, simple and perfect. I have been a fan of his on TV for years now!So this was truly a joy to behold! But then came the Eggs Benedict...

...and the drama of producing a photogenic poached egg!

Poached eggs are tricky little devils. It took 3 attempts yesterday to get one that looked nice... usually they end up looking like Casper the Ghost, with a long trail of wispy white tendrils. I have a theory on this- and a trick that I am going to share with you. I have to admit in advance that the trick didn't WORK yesterday... but it usually does... which brings me back to my theory.

The method for poaching eggs is that you bring water to a gentle boil, add vinegar, which helps to bind the protein in the egg and drop your freshly cracked egg softly into the water. The egg will float and set and after 2-3 minutes be ready to serve. The question is how pretty are they going to look?!?!

After seeing what happened yesterday I was intrigued as to why it didn't work out so well and wanted to see if I could figure it out. I tried a couple out this morning and have come to the conclusion that you get a better result if the egg is cold and refrigerated, you use a small amount of water which is slightly salted and you use my little trick. It is not strictly speaking MY trick of course, even my favorite TV cook (except for you of course Mirko!), Alfons Schuhbeck used it in one of his shows... but it is as simple as this: swirl the water around before you drop the egg into it. That right, create a gentle "whirlpool", and when the egg falls into it, it SHOULD revolve and "capture" any loose, trailing wisps of eggwhite. The water should not be boiling too hard or revolving too swiftly- it should be a gentle motion. On the other hand, I think that the sudden temperature change also helps the egg white to set more quickly. And I tried salting the water which also seemed to help. The other thing is to use a saucepan which is just large enough for the amount of eggs that you are going to prepare. That means for one egg, the smallest one you have. You can actually do 2 or 3 at a time apparently! But I think that your name has to be Schuhbeck for that to work! Haha! 

This was my breakfast experiment of the day! Of the classic method and this one, I have to say that I got the best results with my salty whirlpool!

I served my egg on a lightly roasted round of toast, on a bed of Ajvar, which is a spicy, tangy paste of red bell pepper and eggplant, with a drizzle of olive oil, a few flakes of salt and some finely shredded pimiento pepper. Of course it depends on your own particular taste how long you poach the egg for- I like mine firm-ish with just a hint of buttery soft yolk at the core... mmm!

Simple, fast, and an awesome combination! Mild, silky egg with a blast of hot pepper, a tangy sauce and a crunchy warm toast- I think this is going to be a good day!

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