I will preface this recipe by saying that it may well be beginner’s luck and so please don’t abuse me if things go wrong when you try this at home. I have repeated the recipe successfully four times so far, even under pressure for a dinner party.
Today’s post is based on a recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s book “Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook” that I first read about in a review. It appears a little involved and Fuchsia discussed the problems she encountered trying to reproduce the dish. Bloggers have also tried reproducing the eggs with mixed success. I have found that it works extremely well in the Thermomix, and I am sure that it would do just as well in a conventional steamer.
The result is what looks like a hard-boiled egg, that when cut has no yolk. The texture is a smooth, firm, but not chewy egg-white, softer than normal hard-boiled egg-whites. It is worth trying for some fun. Really, the character building that may ensue will be good.
Some differences between what Fuchsia described in her eventual recipe and how I approached it are as follows:
a) To remove the top of the egg, she uses the heavy back corner of a cleaver to crack the pointy end of the shell. I used a skewer to make a small hole near the flatter base (where the air sac will be found) as if you would to puncture the egg shell for boiling. The first hole was made at a point approximately 1 cm from the middle of the flat end of the egg. Once the shell was gently punctured it was easy to use the skewer to slowly enlarge the opening so that it ended with a hole approximately 2 cm diameter.
As an aside, I had lunch on Friday at Cumulus Inc, Andrew McConnell’s new concern in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. While finishing my main, Damien Pignolet came in and sat down next to me. We chatted about different things, including the fact that I had ripped off one of his recipes for this blog. He recalled how one night just before service he put down some scrupulously cleaned empty egg shells and their contents in another bowl while he answered the phone, only to have another chef empty them into the rubbish bins!!! So, don’t leave your empty eggshells unattended while preparing the recipe.
(Damien has recommended using a knife to quickly and cleanly chop off the pointy end – but he was scrambling his eggs)
Restaurants, or those with no expense to spare, may use the Inox Professional Egg Topper, developed with the help of Alain Passard. It produces a larger opening in the shell, but it leaves a smooth edge and a hole that the yolk comes out of easily.
b) To remove the white, I inserted a small teaspoon into the egg to hold the yolk back while the white was emptied into a saucer. The yolk was then allowed to go into another container and some of the yolks ruptured on the rough edge of the shell.
c) After cleaning and drying the inside of the eggshell, I used some oil to reduce the chances of the white sticking to the membrane. Damien used to strip the membrane out of the shells
d) Fuchsia used chicken stock, while I simply used water to add to the egg whites. If you are going to use stock then it should be very clear. A gelatinous stock is likely to assist with binding of the final product, but water works OK for me.
e) The original recipe called for equal quantities of egg white and stock. I only used two-thirds of the amount of water to egg white. Had I used stock with gelatin then equal quantities may have produced a perfect result. Fuchsia also added salt to the mixture, but I left it out as my understanding is that salt tends to reduce the ability of the white to bond with the water.
f) Fuchsia used a bed of cooked rice in which to place the egg shells, but I just placed part of an egg carton in the steamer.
g) When pouring the mixture into the empty shells I found that using a pouring cup was easier than the funnel, used in the original recipe. But you must keep mixing the egg and water to prevent all the white going into one shell and water into another.
h) The original called for little pieces of paper with a pin prick to cover each shell opening. At first I just placed a couple of layers of absorbent paper over the top of all the eggs. Now I just put the top of the egg container over them and it works fine.
i) After cooling in the ice bath I prefer to let the eggs cool in the fridge for an hour or so before gently peeling and then reheated them for service in the steamer. They are easier to peel that way, but on Saturday I peeled them straight away and no problems.
It is hard to see from my poor photography, but when cut there is no yolk, but a silken white egg.
Thermomix Yolkless Eggs
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms or wood ear fungus (or if using dried, then soak in hot water from the kettle for 30 minutes)
8 medium eggs
About 250 ml water or clear chicken stock, some for the egg mix and some to make a sauce
500 ml water for steaming
16 baby pak choy, trimmed with any wilted and discoloured leaves discarded, cut in half
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 Tbsp cold water
2 tsp sesame oil
(400 g cooked rice – if not using the egg container or similar holder)
If using dried shiitake or wood ear fungus, drain. Cut off and discard the woody stalks and then cut the caps into even slices; set aside.
Remove the end of your egg in whatever way you feel comfortable so that you have a small circle of shell gone from the tip. Insert a small spoon into the egg to hold the yolk away from the hole while you drain the egg white into a bowl. Next, remove the yolk into a separate bowl. Rinse the shell carefully and shake dry. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
Measure the combined volume of the egg-whites, place two-thirds of this volume of chicken stock or water into the TM bowl and heat for 2 minutes at 50°C on reverse and speed soft. Set Thermomix to 4 minutes at 50°C on reverse and speed 2, while blades are turning, add the egg-whites through the top of the lid. The egg-whites and water/stock should be stirred together, but without introducing frothy air bubbles. Push the mixture through a sieve to get rid of any stringy bits of egg-white.
Place your egg holder in the Varoma. (If you are using cooked rice, then lay it in a thick layer on a heatproof dish that will fit into the Varoma and push indentations in to hold the eggs, and place into the Varoma.) Place the empty eggshells in the egg boxes or rice, holes facing upwards. Mix the egg-white mix and pour carefully in to nearly fill the eggshells. Make sure you gently stir the egg-white mixture between eggshells to ensure even distribution of the mix.
Place the 500 ml water into the TM bowl. Place lid on & position Varoma. Set Thermomix for 25 minutes at 100°C (NOT Varoma temp) on speed 1. The egg-whites need to cook very gently.
Once cooked the egg-white may protrude from the shell, do not worry. Remove the cooked eggs to a bowl of iced water and leave for about 5 minutes. If you need them straight away then shell the eggs very carefully, and place in a heatproof dish. Place the bowl back in the Varoma and steam for 10 minutes at 100°C on speed 1 to keep them warm. If you can, place in the fridge until ready to serve and then shell them carefully & place in the heatproof bowl. Place 300 ml water in the TM bowl & steam for 15 minutes at 100°C on speed 1 to warm them through.
While the eggs are heating, place the pak choy, standing up in a bowl and pour boiling water in to blanch the stems. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a wok over a medium flame. Add the sliced shiitake or wood fungus and stir-fry until they are fragrant. Remove and set aside. Heat the other Tbsp oil, drain the pak choy well and stir-fry for a few minutes until cooked but still a little crunchy. Lay them neatly around the edge of a serving dish.
Place the warmed eggs in the centre of the serving dish, so they are surrounded by pak choy leaves. Return the mushrooms to the wok and add the rest of the chicken stock/water and the soy sauce and bring to the boil. Stir in the cornflour mixture and stir until the liquid thickens and reduces. When it is silky and glossy, pour the liquid with the mushrooms over the waiting eggs. Drizzle over the sesame oil and sprinkle with a little pepper.
Fuchsia finished the recipe with “Breathe a sigh of relief, and serve.” Hopefully you will not find it too traumatic.