TL;DR 6th inspiration and one of the most common. How do you adapt a recipe based on an existing one–whether is a popular dish or a recipe you tried at a restaurant? By breaking it down. Breaking it down like this is a different approach than we have used in the past: we go bottom up versus starting top down we have done previously.
Recipe: Our final two recipes are two adaptations of the classic Eggs Benedict; one inspired by Japanese flavors and the other Spanish.
I am going to take one of my favorite, severely overpriced at brunch but still does the trick, dishes: Eggs Benedict. And for the purpose of this dish I want to adapt the cuisine e.g. take out the French and bring in another cuisine.
What are the parts of Eggs Benedict? (Top down)
- Topping – chives
- Sauce – a hollandaise sauce (butter and yolk emulsion flavored with lemon or vinegar and spices/herbs)
- Egg – a poached egg, still creamy yolk
- Meat – traditionally some type of ham, but popular variations include Canadian bacon or smoked salmon
- Grain – sliced and toasted english muffin
What is integral for the dish to still be a “Eggs Benedict”?
So we need to now explore what is the threshold for change. One thing we should retain are the 5 different parts: topping, sauce, egg, meat, and bun. Specifically, for the egg, the poach style is a big factor of the dish. For the sauce, being a “hollandaise” is also a major component, but we have some wiggle room here. We can retain the central elements of the hollandaise (fat and egg yolk emulsion) but change some of the secondary elements (herbs, spices).
What would our baseline dish be?
Given that understanding, here is our baseline dish:
- A topping
- A hollandaise-esque sauce
- A poached egg
- Grain base
What do we add to adapt the dish? How do we build on our baseline?
My last step in the development process will be to identify all the ways I could change this dish according to the cuisine of my choice.
- Topping – easy to change, any type of topping spice (for flavor), herb (for freshness), or crunch (for contrast)
- A hollandaise-esque sauce – keeping a yolk and butter emulsion we are free to add herbs, flavors, and spices. We should add a sour element to cut the richness of the sauce, as well as some type of saltiness to bring out flavors
- A poached egg – other that experimenting with our poaching technique, the only change I can think of here is adding flavor to the water the egg itself is poached in
- Meat – inclusion of some type of meat to add umami and heaviness/calories
- Grain base – to soak the sauce and yolk, add contrast, calories
Eggs Benedicto-san (Japanese)
- A topping – if you want spicy use Shichimi Togarashi, if you want more flavor or contrast use thinly sliced seaweed; or, both
- A hollandaise-esque sauce – Dengaku (beat miso, egg yolks, sake, mirin, and dashi; add Yuzu, either juice or just the zest, when you reach the desired consistency); for the fat we can either stick to butter, or substitute a portion (definitely not all) with sesame oil
- A poached egg – as we talked about above, let’s poach the egg in dashi instead of just water
- Meat – sushi grade fish, I would go with salmon or tuna as you want a rich tasting fish or it will get lost among all the flavors above
- Grain base – sushi rice would be the easy choice, add toasted sesame for flavor and contrast, experiment with toasting the rice a bit
- Taste: creamy, sea/seafood, umami from the miso, fresh citrus, sesame, (basically tastes that are associated with Japanese food), and a bit of heat
- Aroma: the smell of the hollandaise and the dashi poached egg should be bringing freshness and the sea, you don’t smell fresh fish, and the smell of sesame
- Mouthfeel: creamy and soft will be the main components but the contrast with the grain and topping should provide some contrast and crunch; overall warm except for the cool fish
- X-factor: a dish with familiarity that has been taken a notch up from the adaption to Japanese cuisine, approachable yet tasty
I think a mock-up wasn’t necessary for this recipe but a bit on plating:
Platting – You could further develop this in the Japanese style through plating: serve in a bowl with rice on the bottom and build the rest on top similar to how you would get a sashimi bowl. You would want to make sure you slice the fish instead of having a large piece if you plan on serving with chopsticks. I would also add ginger or another type of pickle on the side of the bowl to cut the richness and further assimilate to Japanese cuisine.
You could have soy/wasabi on the side, but I think there are enough flavors in the dish as is.
And there you have it: Eggs Benedicto-san.
Eggs Benedictina (Spanish)
To represent how easy breaking down a recipe to adapt can be, I am going to go ahead and make another version of eggs Benedict this time drawing from Spanish cuisine (and cause the influence of Japanese cuisine on my style of cooking is probably becoming apparent.)
- A topping – depending on what you are feeling, but let’s be bold fried garlic or anchovies, parsley for freshness, sprinkle of pepper
- A hollandaise-esque sauce – base of a regular hollandaise adding in paprika and lemon juice; for the fat, we will use olive oil
- A poached egg – I would be curious to see the taste of the egg after poaching it in saffron infused water. Just a couple strands boiled briefly in the water before the poaching. I think it would also add an interesting color to the egg and a subtle saffron taste goes a long way, just enough to taste but not enough to recognize is what we are aiming for with saffron
- Meat – I think this is the easy choice, chorizo; or jamon iberico if you please
- Grain base – any type of Spanish bread or pan rustico, similar to a baguette or sourdough bread, and slice it diagonally so there is length to the bread, we will want this to have a nice crust just on it’s way to burn, toasted in olive oil and salt/pepper
- Taste: umami, spicy chorizo, heat, the bold flavors depending what you chose for toppings, creamy from the yolk and sauce, subtle taste of saffron
- Aroma: that chorizo will definitely take a big seat, (as described below) the bread on the plancha will give a great smoky burnt smell, then the smell of the sauce
- Mouth feel: heavier when compared to the above recipe, but the same warm feeling, creaminess and the contrast with the grain
- X-factor: a dish with familiarity that has been taken a notch up from the adaption to Spanish cuisine, approachable yet tasty
Plating – lets draw from Spanish style of presentation and use a plancha to serve. If you don’t have a plancha, a cast iron skillet will do the trick. First grill the chorizo in the plancha. After removing, grill the bread in the same chorizo oil. When the bread develops that crust, build the rest of your dish ontop straight in the pan and serve just like that. Warn anyone you might be serving that it will be hot.
Another interesting take would be to create this dish “tapas style”. Use smaller eggs such as quail eggs so that each mini-benedictina would be bite sized.
Following West Coast’s 5 part breakdown of Eggs Benedicto-San, I started to think ingredients and proportions:
- Topping: Shichimi Togarashi should be excellent. I also will add some Furikake for additional texture/flavor.
- A hollandaise-esque sauce: Hollandaise is usually a pain to make without a blender. I will introduce you to my 5 minute “Cheater’s Hollandaise.” Or, “Hollandaise for Chefs Who Want to Cook Good and Save Time to Do Other Stuff Good Too.”
- A poached egg – to be poached in dashi (Refer to Cliffside for dashi recipe).
- Meat – I chose salmon for it’s bright orange color
- Grain – sushi rice patties will be toasted on both sides for crunch and for holding the shape together, I will add Furikake for flavor
Now that I’ve wrapped my head around all the moving parts, let’s get started!
Since there are many different parts to this recipe, I will take it one piece at a time.
Grain – Sushi rice patties: We want to use Japonica rice, which is a short-grained rice with a bit of stickiness. Long-grained rice such as jasmine rice will not do for sushi rice. Luckily, most Asian supermarkets should carry Japonica rice.
1. Sushi rice is simply cooked Japonica rice, with a few seasoning added. We start by cooking the rice normally. I use a rice cooker so I follow the rice cooker’s instructions on how much water to add.
2. After the rice is cooked, spread it out on a large surface to cool. I used my cutting board.
3. Then, we want to add sushi vinegar. sugar , and salt into the rice, cutting it into the rice quickly with the rice paddle. We want to avoid squishing the rice grains, so we have to have a gentle hand and work fast.
For 2 cups of pre-cooked rice, I added 3 tbsp of pre-seasoned sushi vinegar.
I purchased pre-seasoned sushi vinegar. But to make your own, simply dissolve 1 tbsp of white sugar, and 1 tsp on salt into plain rice vinegar.
4. Cut the sushi vinegar into the rice until fully absorbed. The rice will look shinier than it did before.
5. Shape the rice into a patty. I used the lid from a mug, but a mug, or any circular cutting tool is fine.
6. Toast the rice patty in a hot skillet or pan. Snap, crackle, pop!
7. Watch for a golden brown crust. Then flip to toast on both sides.
Meat – Sushi grade salmon
This I simply sliced along the grain of the meat. Then set aside for assembly.
Poached Egg –
I made dashi. Then brought the dashi to a boil.
Crack an egg into a small bowl, then bring the bowl to the edge of the water. Gently slip it in. Then immediate turn the heat down to the lowest simmer. Cover with a lid and wait for 3 minutes. Then remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon.
Hollandaise-esque Sauce –
Hollandaise comes together in two main parts. The egg yolk mixture, and hot butter mixture.
Since I only needed enough Hollandaise for one serving, I used my super easy cheater’s recipe – no immersion blender or double boiler required! Plus, it only takes like, 5 minutes. Get excited for speedy Hollandaise!
1. To assemble the egg mixture, I combined 1 egg yolk, a tsp miso paste, 1 tsp sake, 1 tsp mirin, 2 tsp lemon juice, and a tbsp dashi in a bowl. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is even and a bit frothy. The miso will take some time to dissolve.
2. To assemble the hot butter mixture, I added 2 tbsp butter and 1 tsp sesame oil. I did not add to much sesame oil since the taste is very dominating. Heat the mixture int he microwave until the butter is melted and sizzling hot.
3. Add the hot butter mixture 1 tbsp at a time into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously the whole time.
4. The combined mixture will still be a bit to liquid. Zap it in the microwave, in 5-second increments until the mixture thickens to your liking. (For me, it took 3 5-second increments, but it depends on the strength of your microwave). Whisk after every 5-second zap sessions.
5. Set aside for assembly.
1. Place the rice patty on a plate. Look at that yummy crust!
2. Add furikake to both sides.
3. Add the salmon pieces.
4. Add the dashi poached egg.
5. Spoon on the Hollandaise-san sauce.
6. Top with Shichimi Togarashi and Furikake.
The final dish! I added pickled ginger to counteract the richness of the Hollandaise-san. The salmon-colored ginger is also pleasing to the eye.
Post Game Analysis
- The sushi-rice patty was flavorful in itself and served as a great “bun” for our dish. No soy sauce needed!
- I would substitute smoked salmon for the fresh salmon for more flavor.
- The smell of miso and dashi comes through strongly, but the taste is still dominated by the Hollandaise-san. The smoked salmon substitution, and more miso in the Hollandaise-san should re-balance the dish.
- By being smart about our approach we were easily able to take a staple dish and take it a notch higher through adapting to the cuisine of our liking
- To be able to effectively do this however, you must understand the cuisine you are trying to adapt to which will require research
- The final dish and recipe looks fairly similar to what I was imagining during the concept stage. I think we are getting there!