Crispy Egg with Smoked Eel (Failed Experiment)

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After the positive reactions to the report of my failure trying to make oyster sauce from fresh oysters, here is another experiment that didn’t turn out so well. The photo above is the “crispy egg” we got served for breakfast at Librije last December. It was amazing: a light and very crispy crust with a perfect soft-boiled egg inside, served on a bit of smoked eel salad. We asked the sous-chef who brought this to our table how it was made, if perhaps the egg had been frozen? He said they boiled the eggs briefly, then peeled them very carefully, followed by breading and deep frying. He also mentioned that they only managed to peel 6 out of 10 eggs without breaking them. This came from the kitchen of a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars, so perhaps I should have known better to try to recreate this at home. But it was so good that I thought it was worth a shot.

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This is the photo of the final result. By the time I got here, I was so tired that I didn’t bother to dress the eel (which should be dressed with chives and a fresh sauce, I don’t remember if it was mayonnaise or yogurt-based at Librije).

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The crust was a bit too thick and a bit too dark (because the oil had been a bit too hot), and although the egg yolk was runny the egg did not have the proper texture and it wasn’t completely warm, because in the end I caved in and froze the egg after all to get at least some result. This was after boiling and trying to peel about a dozen eggs, and each of them breaking before I got less than half of the peel removed. Nowhere near the 60% success rate at Librije, but of course they have been serving these eggs on a daily basis for a while, so they’ve had much more practice and time to figure out how to do this.

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The ingredients are simple: smoked eel, eggs, and panko. Plus flour for dusting and ingredients for the dressing such as yogurt or mayo and chives.

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Making a small hole in the air chamber of the egg should help to avoid a dent in the egg.

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The eggs should be cooked in boiling water, as that should make it easier to peel them. Kenji of SeriousEats figured this out.

Nicely peeling hard-boiled eggs is difficult enough as it is, but I had to go and try to peel SOFT-boiled eggs, so I could use all the tricks in the book.

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I simmered the eggs for 3 minutes, but that was too short, and then for 4 minutes, but that still did not turn out to be long enough.

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After cooking I shocked the eggs in cold water. Once completely cold, I tried to peel them. I didn’t photograph the countless eggs that broke almost immediately when I tried to peel them. Four minutes wasn’t long enough, but anymore would cook the yolk by too much.

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And so I decided to freeze an egg after it had been boiled for 3 minutes. Because of the high water content the peel did crack in the freezer, but that is not a problem.

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It was pretty tough to peel the frozen egg. I had to use a knife to scrape pieces of shell off.

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But I did end up with a reasonably smooth frozen egg.

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I breaded the egg by first dusting it with flour, then dipping in beaten egg, and finally in panko.

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I heated an ample amount of frying oil (which I should have heated to 180C/350F, but my thermometer was out of service).

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Then I deep-fried the egg for 3 to 4 minutes.

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In the meantime, I prepared a nice plate with some smoked eel.

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When the egg was golden outside (and hopefully warm inside!), I took it out of the hot oil…

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…and allowed the excess oil to drain.

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If I ever want to attempt this again, I’ll have to do more experiments to figure out the right time and temperature for deep frying the egg, because now the egg wasn’t completely warm inside. But it was quite tasty with the eel all the same.

Flashback

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This crab and fennel pasta is one of those pasta dishes that can be prepared in half an hour and is thus perfectly suited for a weekday meal. That is, if you use crab meat that has already been picked out of the claws (as I did in this case).  The crab and fennel are paired with onion, celery, garlic and a pink sauce of white wine, sieved tomatoes, cream, and cayenne pepper. This gives the dish great depth of flavor and makes it taste very special for a weekday dish that can be prepared in half an hour.

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15 thoughts on “Crispy Egg with Smoked Eel (Failed Experiment)

  1. I think it’s good anyway. Thank you for sharing. Tonight on tv there was a Dutch soccer player, Ruud Gullit, do you know him? I don’t like and don’t follow soccer, bu I remember him, so nice

    Liked by 1 person

      • Have you tried s-v eggs, for instance 62 degrees for 1 hour? The egg just pops out so no need to peel.
        I used to make a Thai version of this with hard boiled eggs but will give the soft boiled a shot too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Eggs was the first thing I tried sous-vide six years ago. I have tried many eggs at many temperatures, but never ever a single egg came out cleanly from its shell after cooking sous-vide. I didn’t try sous-vide for this recipe because the yolk needs to be softer than the white. The white needs to be quite firm to allow to peel it without the white breaking. Hard boiled eggs would be a lot easier, but not as special.

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  2. Knowing you and your persistence somewhat no doubt you’ll try again until you get as close as perfect a result possible 🙂 !! Nice dish, tho’ I would be hugely happy with just that lovely smoked eel on my plate: cannot get this quality here usually . . .

    Liked by 1 person

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