Spanish-Japanese Eggs

Today for brunch, I created a mash-up of two of my favorite egg dishes: Spanish tortilla, a thick omelet with potatoes, and Japanese tamagoyaki, a rolled omelet infused with a slightly sweet soy and dashi broth.

In place of regular potatoes, I use satsumaimo, a kind of Japanese sweet potato that is whiter and a bit firmer than American sweet potatoes. Of course, you can use whatever sweet potato you can find. I pre-cook the satsumaimo with a kind of delicate simmering technique called nimono before incorporating it into the omelet.

The recipe takes a bit of time to make from scratch, but the techniques are simple. I think it’s worth the effort and the perfect way to impress your family and friends with a fresh take on the usual weekend brunch fare.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 piece of kombu
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 4-5 dried shiitake (mushrooms)
  • 1 handful of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • 1 satsumaimo (Japanese sweet potato), substitute the American kind if you can’t find the Japanese kind
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • sesame oil
  • 8 medium organic eggs
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • yuzukoshō (a kind of Japanese fermented green chili and citrus peel paste)
  • soy sauce
  • mirin (sweet rice wine) and sake
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sesame seeds
  • red chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • brown sugar, salt and pepper

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1. Make Broth

  • Rinse the shiitake, kombu, and ginger and place in a medium saucepan with about a liter of cold water.
  • Bring to a simmer, and cook gently for 30 minutes, uncovered.
  • Pick out the kombu and mushrooms and reserve. Leave in the ginger.
  • Bring to a boil and toss in the katsuobushi. Turn off heat, let cool for 10 minutes and strain. Discard katsuobushi and ginger.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and sugar, 1 tablespoon each of mirin and sake. Add salt to taste. It should be salty and a bit sweet but not too overwhelming.

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2. Prepare Satsumaimo

  • While the broth is simmering, cut the satsumaimo into 1/4 inch-thick half moons. Leave the skin on, but trim off any dried-out or dark bits.
  • Soak the satsumaimo slices in cold water until ready to use. This removes some of the extra starch and prevents oxidation, which turns the sweet potato brown.
  • Drain the satsumaimo slices from the cold water and simmer in the broth from the previous step for 15-20 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Remove satsumaimo from cooking liquid, reserving some of the broth.

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3. Make Topping

  • While the satsumaimo is simmering in the broth, prepare the crunchy mushroom and kombu topping.
  • Thinly slice the kombu and shiitake reserved from the broth making.
  • Heat about a teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add in the sliced kombu and shiitake along with the sliced garlic.
  • Season with a few pinches of red chili powder and/or cayenne, freshly grated black pepper and sugar. Add a small splash each of sake, mirin, and soy sauce.
  • Cook until liquid is absorbed and mixture looks dark and crunchy. Sprinkle on white sesame seeds.

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4. Final Assembly

  • Whisk 1/4 teaspoon of yuzukoshō and the scallion in about 1/4 cup of the reserved simmering liquid. Beat in the eggs.
  • Heat a well-seasoned cast iron pan on a medium flame and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the egg mixture, then add a layer of the satsumaimo slices. I had some extra sweet potato that I saved for another use. Then add the kombu and mushroom mixture on top.
  • Continue cooking on low heat until edges look slightly solid. Finish in the broiler (1-2 minutes). The eggs should still be a little runny in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with pimentón, and serve. Enjoy!

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Taiwanese Tea Eggs

Taiwanese Tea Eggs

I just made a batch of Taiwanese tea eggs, which are hardboiled eggs stewed in a tea and soy sauce-infused brine.  They were one of my favorite snack foods growing up, and super simple to make at home, although they are sold in pretty much every convenience store in Taiwan.

First you take some regular chicken eggs, put them in a pot and just barely cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain the eggs and rinse with some cold water to cool down.  Then lightly crack the shells all over, but don’t remove the shells.  This process is what gives the eggs their unique marbled pattern.

Return the eggs to the pot, just barely cover with water.  Then add seasonings.  There are many variations, but I just used what I had in the pantry: 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of whole cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 whole star anise, a 3 inch piece of dried kombu, 1 inch knob of ginger (peeled and cut into strips), 4 tablespoons of strong black tea, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of mirin (sugar works too), and a bit more salt to taste.  Bring everything to a gentle boil, then turn way down to a simmer.  Simmer for about an hour; the smell of the spiced tea brine simmering transports me right back to Taiwan.  Eat warm or cold.  You can store them in the fridge in the tea brine.

Saturday Brunch: Scrambled Eggs Curry

Eggs and curry.  Two of my favorite things combined in one dish for a Saturday at home brunch treat.  This came out a bit soupier than regular scrambled eggs, with the eggs forming an über-rich curry-scented “sauce.”  Perfect for dipping bread into.  This recipe could easily feed two people, but I was hungry and had nobody to share with, so I ate the whole thing.

I was thinking of trying this again some other time and adding a couple handfuls of lump crab meat in at the very end to create a luxurious crab and egg curry that would absolutely be begging for some champagne to wash it all down.  This would go great with some anchovies or smoked mackerel thrown in too.  Well, enough speculation, here is the basic recipe.  If you get around to trying it with crab before me, let me know.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 really small onion or a shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon each of chopped red bell pepper and mild fresh chili pepper
  • Half teaspoon of curry powder (I make my own from whole spices that I mix, roast and grind, but store-bought should work just fine)
  • 1 handful of baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 handful of plum/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 eggs, beaten with juice of half a lemon
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, torn up for garnish

Instructions:

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat.  Sauté the ginger, garlic, onion, peppers and curry powder until the onions are translucent.  Season with some salt.

Add the bok choy, tomatoes and green onions and sauté until softened.  Turn the heat down to low.  Add in the eggs and stir until partially set.  Just remember, this is more of an eggy curry sauce than firm curds of scrambled eggs.

And for dessert, a fruit plate:

This was my first time trying a donut peach, which is like a normal peach, but smaller and looks like a donut.  I noticed a slightly more intense peachiness in the flavor too.