Recently, I was in awesome NYC, with a wonderful friend, having great conversation, drinking fabulous Bellinis, eating a delicious meal.... well..... mostly.
I love eggs. I love poached eggs... especially because they are so hard to do correctly.... and when done perfectly, the white surrounds the liquid creamy yolk like a cocoon waiting to show off the beautiful transformation inside.
But what is this trend with putting a poached egg on or in everything?
on an English Muffin= Good
on a Frisee Salad with Bacon Lardons= Heaven
in Crystal Clear Chicken Consommé = What The F--k!
Why, Oh why, would you take one pain in the ass technique like making clear chicken consommé and taint it, cloud it, and completely destroy it with another pain in the ass technique like making a perfectly poached egg? I ask the kitchen gods to strike down a lightening bolt on any chef caught doing this to me again.
Take, for example, the above photograph which I took in a skills class at The Culinary Institute of America (where I currently work as a Chef Instructor).... see how the consomme's were served in wine glasses to assess clarity? Imagine how each student would have gasped at the thought of my breaking a poached egg into their project, which took them and hour and a half to complete... I don't think I would have won Instructor of the Year.
Let me explain why this trend really fries my eggs...
To poach an egg:
Water at no more than 180 degrees Fahrenheit
enhanced with white vinegar or wine to help coagulate the protein in the white of the egg
dropping the freshest egg you can find (unless egg drop soup is the goal cuz old eggs will just disintegrate)
into perfectly swirled water (right in the middle if the vortex you have created by swirling)
keeping fingers crossed that the egg white will surround the yolk and hold together
and then knowing when to take the egg out
(i'm sweating just thinking about this amazing feat)
now... take something like making a crystal clear chicken consomme:
mix together cold chicken stock, tomatoes, ground chicken, egg whites, carrots, celery onion, wine, some herbs and spices.....carefully, bring this mixture to a boil while making sure nothing sticks to the bottom
once the mess of ingredients congeals and looks like a big meatball, simmer for and hour and then strain the mixture using a ladel and some cheesecloth.
If you are lucky, it will be clear. If not, start over.
the science behind this is fascinating....
the proteins in the egg white and the ground chicken unwind from the acid in the tomatoes and the wine Once the temperature reaches above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the proteins will start to wind up tightly and gather with them all the particulates of fat and other matter suspended in the chicken stock.... it really is amazing.
I tried very hard to think of other things that I wouldn't mind eating with a smathering of broken egg yolk.... one of the only other things I came up with was Bi Bim Bop, a Korean specialty where a bowl of rice and various meats and vegetables is topped with an egg. Some may say a poached egg, some say a fried egg, and still others say a RAW egg in which the heat of th dish would cook the egg...
I vote for the last option, as I have been to a very authentic Korean Restaurant in Fort Lee, New Jersey called So Kong Dong... The reason i ended up here was that my mom FINALLY got a chance to go eat there with someone after my dad, who would not step food in the place because of how it smelled like like kim chi (he was a soldier in the Korean War, you see), had passed away. It was practically one of the first I did with my mom after his funeral.
We were the only non Koreans waiting inline at the joint (a good sign of culinary authenticity)... when we sat down we ordered Kalbi Ribs...
My mother, bless her heart, noticed that almost every other table around us was brought an egg for each person, which was placed on the table in front of them. My mother thought were being jipped for one reason or another by not having been brought an egg (her idea of prejudice).
So she sternly asked our server to bring over an egg. She looked at my mother strangely but brought one over anyhow.
Being as hungry as my mom was, without a thought, she was ready to eat what she thought was a hard boiled egg.
Before i had a chance to open my mouth and say anything, she firmly cracked the egg on the table. The RAW insides splattered all over my face.
Needless to say, I have not been back to So Kong Dong.