Seared Salmon Benedicts


Almost nobody hates eggs benedicts. I was going to say “nobody” period, but Google search turns up 27 results for “I hate eggs benedict”, which means there are at least 27 people out there who suck and don’t count. The rest of the population of the world is then split into two categories: people who love eggs benedict, and people who haven’t had it but want to try. Up until yesterday I was in the latter category of people. But no more! It is definitely a dish everyone should try at least once in their lifetime.

Eggs benedict are a sort of super project for people who love to cook and are still learning how. It teaches you how to clarify butter, how to make hollandaise sauce, and how poach eggs; all very useful tools for many other dishes.

Ingredients

Serving someone eggs benedict - useful for when you're trying to give someone heart disease and still have them think they like you the entire time.

Serving someone eggs benedict – useful for when you’re trying to give someone heart disease and still have them think they like you the entire time.

Cooking + Prep time: 1 hour
Serves Two*

6 eggs**
2 1/2 sticks butter + 2 tablespoons, OR 1 cup clarified butter + 2 tablespoon unclarified butter
1 English muffin
1 tbsp water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 four-ounce (120g) portions of salmon
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley (garnish, optional)

*There is enough hollandaise in this recipe for 20 benedicts. Take this into consideration when scaling the recipe for a large crowd.
**You will need four yolks plus two whole eggs. Use the freshest eggs possible for best results in terms of both taste and cooking.

Cooking

Clarified butter is (probably, I never actually checked) available for purchase at your local grocery store. However, if you, like me, don’t have any, you will have to make some yourself. Take a small pot and place it over the stove at the lowest heat you can manage. Place your sticks of butter into the pan and let them melt.

They're melt their way into your heart, then clog it up and kill you.

They’re melt their way into your heart, then clog it up and kill you.

After 20-30 minutes, you will have a layer of white scum floating atop a pool of piss-colored oil (poetry was never my strength). Use a spoon to scoop the stuff off the top. Then, if you have a cheese cloth, pour the melted butter into a container covered by the cheese cloth. Otherwise, do your best to siphon out as much of the white solids as you can.

A Chinese man will tell you this represents Yin and Yang in perfect balance. A Frenchman will tell you the Chinese man is lying, you should scoop out that white shit because it's ruining your ability to make a good hollandaise.

A Chinese man will tell you this represents Yin and Yang in perfect balance. A Frenchman will tell you the Chinese man is lying, you should scoop out that white shit because it’s ruining your ability to make a good hollandaise.

Now, crack four eggs and separate the yolks out into a glass or metal bowl. Bring a pot of water to a bare simmer. Whisk the yolks until they are slightly paler in color and a bit foamy. Meanwhile, prepare your lemon juice and have your clarified butter in a pourable container within easy reach. You will need these ingredients in short order soon.

Start by whisking the egg yolks by themselves over the pot of barely simmering water. The bowl of egg yolks should benefit from the heat of the water, but the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Then, add a small amount of butter into the egg yolks and whisk to incorporate. Each time the butter is incorporated, add another bit of butter, in slowly increasing amounts, until all the butter has been whisked into the egg yolk. The sauce should start to thicken slightly. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (optional). Whisk to combine, then take it off heat.

You could probably make this sauce look really nice by having good lighting and some fancy shaped porcelain container as its receptacle, set on a table with a clean patterned tablecloth overlooking an open window that shows the house is situated near a cliff with a view of the blue ocean. And maybe a pretty girl with lovely breasts is standing next to the table wearing a summer dress. If a picture is worth a thousand words this caption would really have to be really really long in order to be its equal.

You could probably make this sauce look really nice by having good lighting and some fancy shaped porcelain container as its receptacle, set on a table with a clean patterned tablecloth overlooking an open window that shows the house is situated near a cliff with a view of the blue ocean. And maybe a pretty girl with lovely breasts is standing next to the table wearing a summer dress. If a picture is worth a thousand words this caption would really have to be really really long in order to be its equal.

Now, either using the same pot of water or a separate pot, keep (or bring) the water to/at a bare simmer and add a splash of vinegar. Slice your English muffin in half lengthwise and begin toasting it. Heat up two tablespoons of butter in a non-stick pan over high heat. When the butter in the pan stops bubbling, add the salmon. You want to sear it quickly on both sides to give it a bit of brown without overcooking the fish, about a minute or two on both sides depending on the power of your stove.

One smells like fish, is soft to the touch, and is pink and moist, the other is a fillet of salmon.

One smells like fish, is soft to the touch, and is pink and moist, the other is a fillet of salmon.

Have two eggs on hand. When the pot of water comes to a bare simmer, crack the eggs and gently release them into the water as close to the water as you can. Do not disturb the water while cooking. Let the eggs cook for about 4 minutes, or until the whites are cooked and the yolk is still runny. Gently lift the eggs out of the water and trim off the excess ribbons of white from the main mass.

The asparagus in this meal is like the diet coke in a Big Mac combo meal, it keeps things healthy.

The asparagus in this meal is like the diet coke in a Big Mac combo meal, it keeps things healthy.

Assemble your benedicts: place half an English muffin as the base, a piece of salmon, then the poached egg on top. Generously spoon (but do not drench) hollandaise onto each benedict. Serve immediately.

The general rule about hollandaise is that it should be used (or frozen, according to some sources) within two hours of creation, before the raw egg yolks become a health concern. Plan accordingly if you are serving to many guests for an occasion.

The Result

Might as well spread the love.

Might as well spread the love.

I had a mouth orgasm on the first bite. That is all.

Conclusion

Sorry about the photos, they did not come out as well as I thought they would. Maybe I can try cooking at an earlier time when the lighting is better. But it was certainly one of the best dishes I’ve had in recent memory. Try it sometime, you or whoever you make it for won’t be disappointed.

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Fun with Eggs


…Specifically, eggs of the chicken. Most people will agree that chicken periods are considerably more palatable than human periods. Furthermore, they are cheaper. Requests for human egg donors in the classified section of newspapers often offer thousands of dollars for a single egg.

This blog entry isn’t as much about egg dishes as it is about what you can do with eggs. The first dish is a broccoli and tomato salad with home made mayonnaise. The second dish is a cherry clafoutis. Both dishes use eggs in a supporting role, but the eggs are critical enough that the dishes will not work without them.

If you hate eggs, this is not the blog for you. And shame on you for hating on eggs.

Module 1: Tomato and Broccoli Salad

Hullaballoo

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, of course. Eggs can’t come.

Prep Time: ~30 minutes
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb broccoli
1 lb tomatoes
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp salt

Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2/3 cup oil*
1/2 tbsp salt**
1/4 tbsp pepper (white pepper if you want consistent coloring)
1 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar or lemon juice

*Typically you will want to use a neutral tasting oil. I used half olive oil and half vegetable (sunflower) oil. Pure olive oil will have too strong a flavor for making mayonnaise.

**I tend to under-salt my dressings and my food in general. You may wish to up this to a full tablespoon for the final salad.

Cooking

Bring about two quarts (2 liters) of water to a boil in a pot with 1 tablespoon of salt. Meanwhile, cut your broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

I bet you can’t spot the egg in this picture.

Blanch the broccoli (which means to cook something briefly in boiling water) for about a minute, keeping the heat on high. When you first put the broccoli into the water, it may cause the water to stop boiling. The water should come back to a rolling boil before the minute is up. This will quickly cook the broccoli until it is slightly tender, but the broccoli should still retain some of its crispiness.

Just kidding, there weren’t any eggs in the previous picture.

Lift your broccoli out of the water and let it cool in a colander. Do not dump the hot water yet. As the broccoli cool, you can start on your mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is quite easy to make, but also easy to screw up if you do not pay attention. Crack open an egg and separate the yolk and the white. Discard the white. Deposit the egg yolk in a medium sized bowl. Add the mustard. Mustard is a good emulsifier, which means it will help bind the oil to the egg yolk.

Salmonella? Never heard of her. Is she hot?

Whisk the mustard and the egg yolk together while holding the bowl over the hot water. You will want to bring the two to room temperature without overcooking the eggs, so check the bottom of your bowl every now and then to make sure that it is not too hot. Oftentimes mayonnaise recipes will tell you to use “room temperature eggs”, and this is the best and safest way to bring eggs to room temperature. Simply leaving egg outside for a few hours will “age” the egg significantly and it will be considerably less fresh than if you used the method described here.

Once the yolk and mustard mixture is well whisked and at room temperature, you are ready to make mayonnaise. Have your oil ready at hand and add ONLY a few drops to the yolk. The key to mayonnaise is to start adding oil very slowly. If you add oil too quickly, the mayonnaise will never form and you will have to restart.

The mayonnaise starts out yellow and becomes paler over time. As a Chinese living in the United States, that’s the story of my life right there.

Whisk the few drops of oil into the yolk until it is smooth and uniform. Add a bit more oil this time, and whisk the oil in. Continue to add oil, increasing the increments each time, and whisk the oil completely into the mayonnaise before continuing on.

Whisk until all the oil has been incorporated. Now you can season the mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper, and vinegar or lemon juice for acidity.

The primordial ooze of French cuisine

The time for salad assembly is now. Cut your tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Throw in parmesan and toss your vegetables together with the mayonnaise (add as much as you need). Serve right away, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Vegetables just aren’t the same without a ton of fat drenched all over it.

Module 2: Cherry Clafoutis

A custard had sex with a flan once upon a time. The flan got pregnant and gave birth to the clafoutis.

Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe
Prep time: ~1 hour
Serves 3-4
Makes 1 8-inch cast-iron pan

2 cups ripe cherries*
5/6 cup milk (or part milk, part cream)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla eggstract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
butter, for buttering pan
1 tbsp powdered sugar

You will also need: a vessel which is both stove-top and oven-safe, such as a cast iron pan.

*The traditional dessert can be made with either apricots or cherries (pitted or not). I used unpitted bing cherries, which allegedly gives a more intense flavor. You can either pit the cherries, or use pitted canned cherries. Drain the canned cherries of syrup before use.

Cooking

A clafoutis is like a mix between a flan and a custard. It can be eaten either as a dessert or for breakfast. It is fast and easy to make. First, pre-heat your oven to 350F (175C) sift your flour into a bowl. Add eggs to the flour and mix together into a thick, yellowy batter.

Chopsticks, so named because they are excellent tools for chopping objects. If you disagree, it means your kungfu is weak.

Add sugar, mix thoroughly again, then add the milk slowly while mixing to avoid lumps. Add salt and finally vanilla extract. You should end up with a very thin batter.

If you stir 13 times counter-clockwise using your feet while doing a handstand underneath a ladder with a black cat as witness, a unicorn will appear and grant you one wish.

Prepare your cherries however you want them to end up in the clafoutis. Butter your pan. Turn the heat to medium on the stove top and place your pan on the stove. Pour a thin layer of batter into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Heat the bottom just enough for the layer to thicken slightly, then pull the pan from the heat. Place all of your cherries into the pan in a single layer and pour the rest of the batter into the pan.

This clafoutis just got clafruity.

Stick the clafoutis into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check in at about 40 minutes. Once the edges are puffed and brown, and a knife stuck into the center comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.

Don’t forget to warn people about the cherry pits when you serve this to them, unless you secretly hate them.

Conclusion

Aren’t eggs useful? And not even in the impregnation/reproduction way either. Even when they are not the centerpiece, they serve as critical instruments that bind many dishes and sauces together. I like eggs, and so should you. Eggs are there to serve. They exist for your nourishment. Instead of beating your children or your wife, consider beating your eggs instead. You will discover that the results are much more desirable.