Bathing your eggs gives this dish balance and flavour
Hennie Fisher showcases an egg recipe that his students recently prepared for a food and wine pairing luncheon
FOR a few years, a succession of our culinary students chose to serve an egg dish developed by Chef Brent Savage of Bentley Restaurant in Sydney, using the sous vide cooking method, as one of the stars for a food and wine pairing luncheon.
It must be the intrigue of the recipe that leads different groups to choose the same recipe to pair with wine. At the recent wine and food pairing, wine industry mover and shaker Mark Anderson could not stop singing its praises.
Despite never being subjected to heat above 65°C, the egg in the recipe is cooked and the white and yolk sits in a gently coagulated mass that at first appears undercooked, but on breaking delivers a completely jellified texture.
What makes this dish delightful is the clever playfulness and balance between textures (crunchy and creamy), between temperatures (warm egg, room temperature crumb mix and oils) and between flavours (the Serve this as a first or second course and impress your guests at your next dinner party.
At the restaurant (Bentleys), we use a thermoregulator to maintain a steady water temperature for this recipe. The temperature given, 63°C, is quite specific and should not vary by more than 2°C on either side. The reason for this is that at this temperature both the egg white and yolk cook at the same rate. The result is a creamy textured egg with an even consistency throughout. Almond bread crunch: 2 x 2cm thick sourdough bread slices; 50g blanched almonds, toasted; sea salt flakes. Bake the bread for eight minutes or until completely dry and crisp at 160°C. Slice thinly lengthways — the bread will shatter into small pieces. Finely chop the almonds, combine with the bread and salt to taste. Sherry caramel: 30ml honey, 30ml sherry vinegar. Cook together in a small pot or microwave until slightly thickened. Orange oil: Two oranges, 30ml olive oil. Finely grate the zest, preferably using a microplane, and cover with the oil in an airtight container. Infuse for an hour in a warm place then strain through a muslin cloth, pressing as much oil from the zest as possible. Egg: Heat a pot (or use a sous vide bath) to 63°C and place six eggs into the water for 1½ hours. Immediately crack and remove shells of eggs carefully without breaking the yolk. Drizzle some sherry caramel in each of six flat pasta plates and spoon the almond crunch on top. Place an egg on top and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with orange oil and garnish with dill. uncomplicated flavour of the egg juxtaposed by the richness of the sauce and oil).
When first confronted with the dish, one might be slightly suspicious of the wobbly egg perching on a crunchy base. But break into the just set and still slightly runny yolk that comes oozing out to mix with the crumb mix, perfectly complemented by the accompanying sauces.
You will find that the two sauces/oils contribute richness and complexity, while the crunchy base reminds one of poached eggs on toast.
While this dish may perhaps not be so easy to create at home (one really does need to ensure the water temperature remains constant) it is worth the trouble. It might be easier to find an alternative to monitoring the water on a stove top with a thermometer, such as an induction cooker, or visit the Culinary Equipment Company at Lanseria (or any of their other countrywide stores) and splash out on a dedicated sous vide bath.
Eggs are highly nutritious and appear with Greek yoghurt as the only proteins at the top of one list of the 25 healthiest foods in the world. While the debate about the health risks of eggs is far from over, some research suggests total HDL cholesterol is increased by dietary cholesterol of the yolk, while other studies claim that an egg a day does not appear to increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals.
The debate about refrigerated eggs versus those kept out is simple: uncleaned eggs that may have been contaminated by Salmonella Enteritidis can be safely kept outside as long as the egg remains unwashed (nonrefrigerated eggs are preferred for baking and poaching).
Most commercially produced eggs (and apparently more than a trillion eggs are produced annually in the world) are washed before they are packaged. This means the naturally occurring protective cuticle providing protection from bacterial infections such as salmonella is damaged; in these cases eggs should rather be refrigerated.