I don't know that I'll do this often, but I have been back to cooking a good bit lately, and I enjoy sharing stuff that works out. I'm a reasonably competent self-taught cook, but like all amateurs every so often I surprise myself with something that worked better than expected. So here goes.
I thought about calling this Eggs Benedict Arnold, but then I googled that and it's already a thing. And anyway, I'm actually really not into puns. Anyway, it does look kind of like a traditional Eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin) but it's not remotely similar in flavor.
The asparagus are glazed in a sauce comprised of hickory syrup and soy sauce. Yup, hickory syrup. I discovered this stuff only recently and I was all like Cinderella at that fancy dance when she sees the Prince. Smitten, I think that's called.
It's similar to maple syrup in most respects, but made from turbinado sugar and hickory bark. So it's got a kind of pleasantly mild smokiness that's really unique.
A brief aside: long ago, in the dark and misty past, Dad and I would make Eggs Benedict for Mom every year on Mother's Day. I would say our success rate was better than 50/50, but then, I was a kid... I really have no clue. I'm sure Mom appreciated it, though, even if it was awful.
On which point, Hollandaise is a pretty ambitious recipe for the pairing of me, a child, and my father, who had a basic competency with kitchen implements, but who, with the exception of that one day a year, almost never cooked.
I do recall using jarred Hollandaise one year, and it's my belief that Dad always had some on hand even the years we made it from scratch, just in case.
That said, I haven't made Hollandaise since those long ago Mother's Day mornings, so I wasn't gonna do that, especially after a long day at work. So I concocted a curried yogurt thing of similar consistency, with far less butter and presumably less prone to breaking as it's not cooked. What possessed me? In the immortal words of Lucas, "Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear."
Anyway, before we get to it, I gotta warn: I never really measure accurately unless I'm baking, so quanities are approximate, YMMV, taste as you go, etc. Cool? Cool.
- 1 tbsp Hickory Syrup
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- dash of cayenne pepper or ichimi tōgarashi
- 1/2 cup plain whole yogurt
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp yellow curry (mostly for color; a bit of turmeric would also work)
- 1 tbsp heavy cream (or to desired consistency)
- salt to taste
For the glaze: melt the butter in a measuring cup or bowl, then add the other ingredients and whisk or stir vigorously with a fork to mix thoroughly.
For the curried yogurt: I guess this can be prepared in advance, though the acid in the lime would mess with the dairy, right? I think so. I think it's better to make this while the water is coming to a boil so it doesn't sit too long. I just whisked it all thouroghly and everything worked out pretty much fine. Next time I might simmer the curry poweder in the cream on the lowest setting to soften the granules and distribute the flavor more thoroughly.
For the eggs: Start some water boiling and salt it lightly. I don't add vinegar to the water for poaching, on which more shortly.
In a large skillet (I use cast iron) brown the asparagus in a little olive oil on medium high heat but don't fully cook them. Add the glaze, shake to coat and then turn the heat down to medium low or low depending on how long the other stuff is taking. You want the glaze to thicken and the asparagus finish cooking, but you don't want the glaze to burn... burnt soy sauce is gross.
Now it's time to poach the eggs. I use the method the author finally ends up favoring in this article. Just a single drop of white vinegar in with the raw egg. It can be kind of scary to whisk boiling water but I managed it unscathed (har-har) and it really does produce a pretty much perfectly poached egg.
You can really only poach one egg at a time, which it fine. They cook really fast, like 45 seconds fast, so if you work quickly you can finish the second before the first is unnaceptably cold.
For plating, just as seen above. EXACTLY. Er, or you know, whatever you wanna do :) I just laid the curried yogurt across the top and then finished with a sprinkle of some hickory smoked salt (a lovely Christmas present from my folks) to bring things full circle.
Um, yeah. That's it. Enjoy!
If you're like me, which I encourage as far as food goes, if not necessarily in any other regard, you'll spear the eggs so that the yolk spills out onto the asparagus. Yar.
If I'd been smarter, I'd have had a slice or two of rye toast to accompany. Rye toast all soaked in egg yolk and smoky sweet hickory remnants...