Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Momofuku's Soy Sauce Eggs

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I love eating out. If we were rich, I swear, we would eat out every night—even though, yes, I love to cook and, yes, that money would be better spent writing a big old check to Partners in Health. I know.

Anyhoo, Momofuku is this incredible restaurant in New York, where you wait in line for nine hours so that you can be hustled through the most expensive meal of your life in twenty minutes. But, oh! That meal. We have eaten things there—their famous ramen, their shrimp buns, a special octopus salad—that I have thought about almost every day since eating them.  That said, it’s not an ideal restaurant for our strictly vegetarian Birdy, being largely porkcentric and kind of unapologetically unaccommodating overall. However, Birdy did order a neon green cucumber salad that was improbably good, and, also, this simple, briny pickled egg that arrived beneath a thick shower of fried shallots.


I promised her I would try to make them at home, and now I’ve made good on that promise and I can say that they’re dead-easy and just as delicious as the ones we ate in the restaurant, maybe even more delicious given that we’re using eggs from our neighborhood farm that have the kind of glowing yolks that sing a song about grass and worms and sunshine. But there were a couple store-bought eggs in one batch, and those were pretty effing good too.

Thanks to their killer umaminess, even Ben almost liked them, and he has hated hardboiled eggs since he first tried one, at the age of 14 months, when he was fed a small piece and promptly unfurled his horrified tongue back out of his mouth, with the egg still on it, the same way you would hold your hand far away from your body if somebody happened to shit into it.

But this pickled egg he tasted, then shook his head, then came back to taste it again, the way you do, when you can’t quite let go of something. “That’s definitely the best hardboiled egg I’ve ever tried,” is what he said. “It’s like weird, tangy Jell-o.”


But he’s right, texture-wise. The boiling method and timing produces eggs with perfectly firm whites and gelatinous yolks with a liquid center.  This is, as far as I’m concerned, the ideal egg, and it’s how you get them at Momofuku. If you think that’s not going to work for you, try cooking them a minute longer, but really—don’t go for solid yolks or you’ll dim the magic. Trust me on this.

Momofuku’s Soy Sauce Eggs
This is my version of Food52’s version, which is a version of the version in Milk Bar Life. I added the fried shallots, since that’s how we ate them at Momofuku. Serve these as part of a bread board for dinner, or for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. Don’t worry if you run out of shallots—the eggs are great without them too, although I bet that slivered scallions, crushed potato chips, and/or crumbled bacon would make great toppings too.

6 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¾ cup soy sauce (the recipe recommends low-sodium, but you can guess whether or not that’s what I used)
Neutral-tasting vegetable oil
1 shallot, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
Kosher salt

Half-fill a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil over high heat.

Carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water (I do them two at a time with a ladle) and boil them for 7 minutes (or, according to the incomparable David Chang of Momofuku, for 6 minutes and 50 seconds), stirring them for the first minute and a half (I think what that does is keep the yolk from settling to one side, and it works really well.) Fill a bowl with ice and cold water to prepare for the eggs being done.

While the eggs cook, whisk the sugar into the water in a small bowl, then stir in the vinegar and soy sauce.

After 7 minutes, use a slotted spoon to move the eggs to the ice water. When they’re cold enough to handle, peel them, and put them in a container that they just fit in in a single layer. Pour the marinade over them and refrigerate. The recipe says 2 to 6 hours and I, naturally, went for the full 6. Remove the eggs to a lidded container and store in the fridge for—the recipe claims, improbably—up to a month. You can reuse the soy-sauce mixture for more eggs. I do.

When you’re ready to serve, fry the shallots. Heat a very small pan over medium heat, add a big splash of oil (there should be enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan) and fry the shallot, stirring constantly, until browned and sort of fluffy-seeming, about 3 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate and salt them. (Use the extra oil for something: salad dressing or stir-frying cabbage, say.)

Slice each egg lengthwise a top with a small shower of shallots. If you skip the shallots for any reason, then sprinkle a little pinch of coarse salt on the yolk before serving.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Winner, plus Misc. Complaints, plus Smoky Shrimp!

Ben's friend Ava made me this card. Right? When she's famous, I'll auction it at Christie's and use the profits to commission a Cheeto-shaped house.
And the Free-Form Give-Away winner is. . . zameander! Because she wrote this haiku:

Whoa! ANOTHER hair?
Overnight, and wiry, black?
ANOTHER hair woe.

Zameander, please send me your address and the name of the book you would like. Did I promise the winner would be randomly chosen? I hope not! I love you all, and thank you for playing along and for your sweetest congratulations. When I was pitching that new book a while back, I included some of your nagging write-another-book emails. Seriously. I think that's what did the trick.

Ben, doing his calculus homework. Inside a huge box. Because.
Meanwhile. I sewed the spots onto Ben's cow costume for him. Seriously. After swearing on a stack of a thousand copies of Jessica Lahey's brilliant book that I would not help him with it, especially since he left it until the last minute (they celebrate at school today). What is he now, 40? And I'm still doing this? He teased me this morning that I was going to be the mom in Love You Forever, only instead of sneaking in with a ladder and rocking his middle-aged self in my lap, I was going to sneak in and sew his Halloween costume. "Do you think I wanted to sew it?" I asked and he said, "I'm guessing you must have, since you did." That is food for thought. The problem with that kid is that he is so funny and charming that I am doing things for him before I even realize I've agreed to. Dangit. But maybe that's a good life skill, being so funny and charming that people can't help doing stuff for you? I am still thinking through it. Plus, he has been taking such excellent care of his sister, who is now at his same school. Who could begrudge him a couple of cow spots? Sigh.

Luckily, the half a bottle of pinot noir I drank while sewing cow spots encouraged me to mend our (cat's) couch, which I am thrilled about. (I still think "Drunk Mending" would be a great book series.)

The recipe for today is Smoky Shrimp with Garlic and Olive Oil, which someone requested, and which I can't believe I'd never moved over until now. It is still a great favorite around here, and if shrimp were free, I would make it every night. Unfortunately, only black walnuts and dandelion greens are free, and I'm just not getting a real dinner feeling off of them. Have a wonderful weekend. xo

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Recipes, Books, and a Freeform Give-Away

Ah, my darlings. A few things today. For one, I turned 47. Yes, I did. And we went to see a band called Darlingside, whose new album you can listen to here for free! You are so welcome (assuming you like crushingly adorable young-guy string bands who do Crosby, Stills, and Nash harmonies). It was the best birthday ever, for many reasons, including Michael making a romantic acrostic birthday card, and everyone going on a mushroom foraging walk with me. Sigh. The forties is by far my favorite decade so far, nipple hairs and geriatric acne notwithstanding.

Next up: fulfilling your recipe requests. For Warm and Smoky Potato Salad and Butternut Galette with Roasted Onions, Pecans, and Blue Cheese. I made that galette last week, only instead of squash et al, I made it with a big heap of sauteed cabbage and onions and a thick layer of melty aged gouda, and it was totally fabulous. Also caraway seeds. Yum.

And then a couple of book recommendations. Like the newest Full Grown People collection, Soul Mate 101 and Other Essays on Love and Sex edited by the lovely and brilliant Jennifer Niesslein. I tried to read three essays (it was late, and that was the number I had allotted myself), and did not put the book down until I was done. It's honest and raw, sexy and joyful and sad and very middle-aged, in the best possible way. I confess to having contributed an essay to the volume that is not the least dirty thing I have ever written. Actually, the only dirtier thing might be the essay I contributed to the first FGP collection. Or the poem I once wrote comparing Michael to a microwaved hotdog.

I am also recommending the latest Unbored book: Unbored Adventure, which I had the deep honor of contributing to, and which Birdy has named "The best Unbored book yet!" (Huge praise.) This is a chock-a-block book, filled with crazy, thoughtful, well-tested ideas that range from the immediately doable to the profoundly inspirational and aspirational. Birdy read the book cover to cover, then promptly spent the day sewing something called a "Ditty Bag," which thrilled her no end. "What are you going to do next from it?" I asked her, and she looked thoughtful, then said, "Purify drinking water using nesting bowls and evaporation." Okay! 

And if you're all, "Adventure? Seriously? Catherine?" please know that I wrote the opening essay and ideas for the "Adventures Close to Home" chapter. Like last week? We foraged the black walnuts from our own backyard. Ba-bam. Adventure.

And finally, A Step Toward Falling, which is a book that has nothing to do with me. Except that its author Cammie is my beloved neighbor and friend, and her profound kindness, hilariousness, and curiosity sparkle in everything she writes. It's a book that's getting starred reviews everywhere, and that is currently #1 on Amazon in "Teen and Young Adult Special Needs Fiction." Birdy read this book so fast that the pages were flying, and she has described it as "awesome" and "complicated" and "funny" and also (this is a caveat) "the grown-uppiest book I have ever read." I'm reading it next.

One more book, even though I said "finally" already:

It's out in April, but you can pre-order it here! Please do. (Dying a little. Click on the link just to see the advance blurbs from this incredible person and this one. Dying. Seriously.)

Okay, the free-form give-away! I don't want to give these particular books away because I want you to buy them! So enter by commenting, and if you win, I'll send you any book you like that amazon sells (and that is not, like, $100). Sound good? Comment by noon EST next Wednesday, 10/14. 

Love and happy reading. xo