There are two things I've been obsessed with lately. One is eggs. The other is the new spring fruits and veggies. I'm mad about them, and desperate for them. I spend half an hour circling the farmers market this week before I came to terms with the fact that the East Coast just didn't have strawberries yet, but I didn't leave empty handed. My bag was bulging, it is officially Asparagus season.
Since my experiments with Ginger Scallion noodles, I've been scouring my Momofuku cookbook for recipes I could make without spending hundreds of dollars on obscure ingredients and a cold smoker. With my obsession for cooking embryonic food and the piles of asparagus popping up all around me, it was time for my next David Chang challenge. There it was, on page 90, Pan-Roasted Asparagus and Slow Poached Egg in Miso Butter. The set up for the recipe seemed fairly simple, and astoundingly all things I keep in my cabinet, with one exception. The damned miso butter. I had purchased Chang's miso butter at Milk Bar a few weeks back, played with it exactly once, then left it out overnight and had to toss it all out because of damned "food safety" concerns.
Miso butter is not hard to make, literally mix together miso and butter. Ta da! This method, however, assumes you are the kind of person who just has packages of miso on hand. Well, now I am one of those people. At the Assi Asian grocery near my mother's house last weekend I picked up my very own package of miso. I have no idea if it's the shiro (white) miso that Chang recommends, it just said "Miso" and then a lot of characters I can't read. When I mixed it together it looked like the one I bought at Milk Bar so I'm counting it as a win for me.
The whole recipe comes together rather quickly, as long as you have that poached egg. That slow poached egg. Poached eggs are generally broken, put in a dish, and then slid into water. If your lucky the whole thing does spread apart and go to shit. Momofuku avoids this problem by slow poaching the eggs in their own shells, bringing the water to between 140 and 145 degrees (a nifty test for my new digital thermometer) and then plunking in the eggs for 40 to 45 minutes. When you crack the shell, out comes poached egg, nice and pretty. Since they keep (in their shells) for up to 24 hours in the fridge, they can be made ahead of time. I was curious though, if I did not have the nearly an hour to make the egg the Momofuku way, could I pull off the traditional? Blog commenter Deanna pointed me toward Smitten Kitchen's tutorial. But that didn't satisfy my desperate need to cheat. (And according to my pasta making teacher this week, I'm a big cheater, with my Kitchen Aid and all.)
I decided to use a brand new Poach Pods in a side by side test. These silicon little toys float on top of your simmering water, keeping your eggs in tact and pretty. I did a side by side comparison, poaching one egg the normal way and one in the pod. The pod has to be lightly oiled before use, so it's not technically the completely "oilless cooking" that pure poaching is. The color of lose egg was a purer white then the Poach Pod one, and had a more natural shape to the finished product. The Poach Pod egg was very obviously the shape of a Poach Pod, so if you were doing this for company, slow poaching or normal poaching would probably be best. If you were just trying to knock together something like this recipe or an Eggs Benedict for yourself though, the Poach Pod has it on ease and piece of mind. There is absolutely no need to worry that your egg will break apart or will be undercooked when you use a pod.
Will, as previously mentioned, is not an egg fan. Can't stand even the smell of them actually. Therefore I waited until a night he was working and prepared a dinner for 1. It was a tiny meal, if you are looking for a filling main course maybe throw a piece of chicken next to it. I still made plenty of miso butter, because I love having a new condiment around to play with, and it's tasty stuff.
Pan Roasted Asparagus and Poached Egg & Miso Butter
Adapted from Momofuku
-1/4 cup of Miso (and pray it's the right one)
-3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
-6 stalks of Asparagus, ends snapped, peeled if they are thick
-1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
-1 poached egg (slow if you're doing this the Momofuku way, pictured right)
-Freshly ground black pepper
First make miso butter: In a small bowl combine 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter with miso until well mixed. Stir until it's one color, not full of chunkiness. Reserve half of the mixture at room temperature for the dish, the other half can be stored, wrapped in the fridge for a few weeks. Trust me, it's a fun ingredient, you'll want to play with it.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. When the bubbles have cleared, put in asparagus. If making more don't overcrowd, do in batches with fresh butter if need be. When asparagus begins to brown (about 2 or 3 minutes) season them with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to medium, and flip with tongs. Brown on reverse side, another few minutes. When you have some satisfying color and tenderness, remove from pan and lay on paper towel lined plates to drain.
Put sherry vinegar in a microwave safe dish for about 10 seconds. Using a small saucepan, mix warmed vinegar with reserved miso butter over low heat until butter starts to separate but does not melt, about 2 minutes. Spread miso butter on the center of the plate in a "thickish puddle". Arrange asparagus on top of the butter and place the egg on top of the asparagus. Finish with a small pinch of salt and a grind of fresh pepper.
Look how much it looks like the picture! I was very proud of myself. The taste was phenomenal, salty, tangy, buttery, the crunch of the asparagus versus the softness of the egg, the smoothness of the egg versus the graininess of the miso, it was a pretty banging and impressive dish.