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

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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.

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