When I started my blog, it was an easy decision that it would be in English. Almost all of my fellow Dutchmen can read English well, and it would greatly enhance the number of possible readers worldwide. As a side effect I now have blogging buddies from Dublin, Chicago, Dallas–Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Northern California, Rome, London, Adelaide, Colorado, Northern Canada, Seattle, Saint Emilion, etc. but none from my own country. I do have Dutch readers (about 8%, in third place after the USA and the UK) and a lot of them are friends that I already know in real life.
No matter how much fun it is to exchange our recipes, photos, successes, failures and ideas with my blogging buddies, an important aspect is missing from such online friendships: cooking and eating together! This is impractical because of the distances involved, but luckily it has happened and if it’s up to me it will undoubtedly happen again.
Why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with smoked salmon and sous-vide egg yolk crostini? I’m getting to that. You see, out of the blue I received a question from a guy from Amsterdam asking me about the best temperature for Wagyu short ribs sous-vide. He told me that he has been following my blog for a while and that he has been cooking together with another guy from Amsterdam that he met through that guy’s blog. One thing led to another, and next thing I knew I was invited to a wonderful dinner cooked by them together. They are both as passionate about cooking as I am, or perhaps even more passionate if you consider that Auldo has cooked his way through Heston Blumenthal’s Big Fat Duck Cookbook and Teun is looking for ways to turn cooking into a career.
The dinner was great with dishes like slow-cooked iberico pork cheek with celeriac fondant and triple-cooked potatoes, served with two amazing sauces. It was a rare treat to begin with that someone was cooking a gourmet dinner for me instead of the other way around. We had a wonderful evening, enjoying the food and wine and chatting mostly about food, cooking and wine as you can imagine. We established that we can learn a lot from each other. These guys are well-versed in modernist techniques with powders for all kinds of purposes, so you can expect to see more about that on my blog in the near future. Teun is crazy about cooking vegetables sous-vide, and from talking about it with him I think I may have neglected this area so far. The sous-vide fondant celeriac was amazing, that’s for sure.
Today’s post was inspired by one of the appetizers served by Teun. He had cooked an egg yolk sous-vide at 64C/147F, which gives it a very nice smooth consistency. He served thinly sliced smoked salmon with lemon zest and the sous-vide egg yolk, and I loved the combination. The egg yolk adds a very nice creaminess to the salmon, whereas the lemon gives it freshness and makes it more interesting. To add an additional texture, I thought it would be nice to serve this mixture on crunchy crostini. Next time I will use a cookie cutter to make perfectly round crustless crostini to make it look more elegant, but otherwise I was very pleased with the result.
If you do not have sous-vide equipment, you can approximate this dish by boiling eggs such that the yolks have barely set, about 5 minutes. The yolk should definitely not be gritty and smell of sulfur, if that happens start over with new eggs and cook them for a shorter time (if they are the same size, freshness and starting temperature).
100 grams (3.5 oz) good quality thinly sliced smoked salmon
6-8 slices of French bread
2 tsp minced lemon zest, yellow part only
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil for brushing
Cook the eggs sous-vide for 1 hour at 64C/147F. (Eggs are the only food that do not need to be vacuum sealed to be cooked sous-vide.)
Roast the bread at 225C/450F for about 3 minutes, turn over and roast until golden (another 3 minutes). Watch them carefully as they should be golden but not burnt. (Because the radiant heat in the oven is reflected while the bread is still lightly colored and will be absorbed more once it starts to color, the browning will accelerate quickly once it gets going.)
Usually I use a microplane grater to create lemon zest quickly and easily. In this preparation it is even more important than usually to use only the outer yellow rind and not the bitter white pith underneath. Therefore I used a vegetable peeler to peel off strips of the lemon rind.
Add the salmon, cut into 1 cm (1/3″) strips, the lemon juice, and half of the lemon zest to the egg yolks. Stir to mix with a spoon. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. You can also season with salt and freshly ground black pepper if you like, but I didn’t think that was necessary.
During the dinner this worked very well with the Gavi di Gavi I had brought. This is not surprising, as smoked salmon and Gavi are a great match. With the crostini I decided to try it with a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva, partly aged in oak barriques. This also worked very well, because the wine has a roundness that goes well with the egg yolk, acidity to go with the lemon, and oakiness to go with the smoky flavor of the salmon.