Eggs are my go-to for an easy lunch or dinner, but I always end up poaching, scrambling or frying them. What else can I do?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you’ve got eggs, you’ve got a meal. “You really can take them in any direction you fancy,” says fellow egg enthusiast and chef Selin Kiazim of Oklava in London. But with so many options, from shakshuka and frittata to chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard), it’s hardly surprising that so many of us fall back on the usual suspects.
Next time James fancies scrambled eggs, Kiazim suggests dicing and sauteeing lamb, a waxy potato and onion in olive oil, then scrambling in an egg. Turkish eggs are another good shout, she says: fry chopped peppers, onions and tomatoes in olive oil, add chilli and tomato paste (“Turkish pepper paste, if you can”), then scramble through your eggs. “It’s really silky and rich.”
Lara Lee, author of Coconut & Sambal: Recipes from my Indonesian Kitchen, deep-fries soft-boiled eggs, which is common practice in Indonesia. After boiling for six to six and a half minutes, she cools them under cold water, peels, then fries in a pan filled a third of the way up with 160C sunflower oil (if you don’t have a thermometer, drop in a cube of bread and it should turn golden in 25-30 seconds). “Deep-fry until the skin becomes slightly pockmarked and a little crisp and golden,” Lee says, then drain on kitchen paper and season with salt. “It adds a lovely texture to the egg, which is wonderful stir-fried with a spice paste of long red chillies, coriander seeds and garlic.” Alternatively, pack them up for a picnic (when we’re allowed), she says: “You’ll still get that lovely moment when you cut into it and the yolk mixes with rice or noodles.”
Soy-cured eggs are another cracking (sorry) partner for noodles, Kiazim says. “Boil for six minutes, so they’re oozy but a bit set, then peel and sit them in soy sauce for about an hour.” Don’t submerge them, though: “Just keep spooning it over the eggs every now and then.”
Egg crepe rolls make for another easy, light meal, but you’ll need a decent nonstick pan. “In Indonesia, these eggs are called sosis solo, because they look like a sausage,” Lee says. Make a batter by mixing three tablespoons of plain flour and some salt in a bowl, then gradually whisk in six eggs. “Ladle two tablespoons of batter into a lightly oiled frying pan, swirl it around and cook for 15 seconds a side.” What you fill it with is, of course, up to you, but Lee favours a fragrant pork mince with garlic, ginger and vermicelli.
And don’t be afraid to go back to basics. “I love fried eggs,” Lee says, especially drizzled with kecap manis (fermented sweet soy sauce). “The oozing yolk mixes with that salty, savoury, sweet flavour of kecap manis. If I had just a bowl of plain rice with that on top, I’d be happy.”
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