Poached eggs are an American breakfast and brunch favorite.
In fact, the
commonly used “egg poacher” actually steams the eggs. Knowing the traditional
technique for poaching eggs in water is useful if you want to prepare such
classics as hollandaise-sauced eggs Benedict or cheese-coated eggs Florentine
with spinach, or even plain poached eggs on buttered toast.
eggs, you carefully break very fresh eggs into a saute pan of simmering water
acidulated with a little vinegar, and swirl the water around each egg to
encourage it to hold together. Once the eggs are poached, you gently remove them
with a slotted spoon. The poached eggs are fragile, and you need to be careful
not to break the yolks, or they will be lost in the water. Next you drain them
so they won’t make the sauce watery. At cooking school our chefs even trimmed
the little “tails” of egg whites that formed during poaching to give the eggs a
neat round shape.
But there’s another, much easier way to poach eggs –
the Mediterranean method. You simply poach the eggs in a savory sauce or stew,
and serve them right in the sauce. A colorful pan of such eggs was a highlight
at my friend Nancy Eisman’s lunch party. Nancy poached the eggs Moroccan style
in a delicious sauce of tomatoes and roasted sweet peppers, and served them with
crusty country bread.
Different versions of sauce-poached eggs are
popular around the Mediterranean. I first became familiar with them when I moved
to Israel, where some call eggs poached in tomato sauce shakshuka, although this
name is also used for eggs scrambled with tomatoes.
Mohamed Kouki, author
of Cuisine et Patisserie Tunisiennes
, makes shakshuka by poaching eggs in a
thick, spicy tomato sauce with sauteed onions and sweet and hot peppers,
seasoned with harissa (North African hot pepper paste). He varies the flavorings
of the sauce with garlic and pounded caraway seeds or adds spicy merguez sausage
Moroccans poach eggs in a stew of fresh peas with garlic,
turmeric and paprika, wrote Rivka Levy-Mellul in Moroccan Cooking
To make eggs and potatoes, she poaches eggs sprinkled with hot or sweet paprika
in a medley of sauteed potato dice, garlic and parsley.
Jews of Greek
origin are also fond of eggs poached with sauteed potatoes. Theirs are browned
in olive oil with spring onions, wrote Nicholas Stavroulakis, author of Cookbook
of the Jews of Greece
. For eggs in cumin-spiced tomato green pepper sauce,
popular in Athens and Izmir, Stavroulakis recommends an accompaniment of chilled
A variety of these easy egg dishes have been developed by cooks
in Turkey. Spinach cooked with sauteed onions and grated cheese makes a good
base for poaching eggs, wrote Neset Eren in The Art of Turkish Cooking
. For a
different take on pastrami with eggs, Turks cook their similar garlicky pastirma
with sauteed onions and tomato juice, and cook eggs in the
Typical Italian flavors accent a Neapolitan dish called “eggs in
purgatory,” wrote cookbook author Erica de Mane in The Flavors of Southern
. The eggs are slipped into a tomato sauce flavored with chopped anchovies,
sauteed garlic and marjoram and sprinkled with pecorino cheese, then served
garnished with basil.
To make it easier to add eggs to a simmering sauce
or stew, break each egg into a cup first, and then slide it into the
Poach the eggs to the degree of doneness that you like. Some
prefer poached eggs with soft yolks, for which very fresh eggs are essential
because these eggs are undercooked; others like their eggs firmer.
MOROCCAN POACHED EGGS IN
SPICY TOMATO SAUCE You can saute sweet peppers with the tomatoes, as in this
recipe, or add roasted peeled peppers.
For extra pungency, add 1 or 2
chopped fresh hot peppers along with the garlic.
about 3 Tbsp. extra
virgin olive oil or vegetable oil 1 medium onion, halved and sliced 1 large
sweet pepper, red, green or yellow, diced 3 large garlic cloves, minced
(optional) 700 gr. to 900 gr. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or an
800-gr. can tomatoes, drained and diced 1⁄2 tsp. paprika, plus a little for
sprinkling 1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano Salt and freshly ground pepper Harissa (hot
pepper paste) or hot sauce to taste 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh coriander or parsley
(optional) 4 large eggs Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy
Add onion and sweet pepper and saute over medium heat for 7
minutes or until onion is golden. Add garlic and cook over low heat for 1⁄2
minute. Add tomatoes, 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a
boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until mixture is
thick. Add harissa and fresh coriander. Taste and adjust
Shortly before serving, reheat sauce and make four hollows in
it, each large enough to hold 1 egg. Add 1 whole egg to each hollow and sprinkle
each egg lightly with oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Cover and cook for 4 to 5
minutes or until eggs are done to taste. Serve hot.
EGGS WITH SALAMI AND EGGPLANT In this Mediterranean twist on
the American deli standard, salami and eggs, the spicy meat flavors a pan of
lightly stewed vegetables, which serves as a base for poaching the eggs. Serve
it with plenty of crusty bread or fresh pita.
1 or 2 Tbsp. extra virgin
olive oil 2 to 4 slices salami, cut in small dice 1 small eggplant (about 225
gr.), cut in small dice 2 small white squash (kishuim), cut in small dice 2
medium tomatoes, cut in small dice 1⁄4 cup chopped green onion 1⁄2 tsp. dried
oregano salt and freshly ground pepper 4 eggs pinch of hot paprika or cayenne
pepper Heat oil in a large skillet. Add salami and saute until lightly browned.
Add eggplant, cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add squash and cook for 5
minutes. Add tomatoes, green onion, oregano and a small pinch of salt and
pepper, and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust
Shortly before serving, reheat vegetable-salami mixture and
make four hollows in it with a spoon. Add 1 whole egg to each hollow and
sprinkle each egg lightly with salt, pepper and hot paprika. Cover and cook for
4 to 5 minutes or until eggs are done to taste. Serve hot.
POACHED EGGS IN EASY TOMATO MUSHROOM SAUCE This quick dish is
good for a casual supper after Shabbat. You can vary the vegetables to your
taste. If you have some leftover cooked green beans, cauliflower or potatoes,
dice them and heat them in the sauce before adding the eggs. If you like,
sprinkle the eggs with grated cheese when you add them to the pan.
11⁄2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 small onion, chopped 100 gr. to 110 gr.
mushrooms, diced 2 small zucchini or white squash (kishuim), cut in small dice a
400-gr. can tomatoes, drained and chopped salt and freshly ground pepper 1⁄4
tsp. cumin or paprika, or to taste 2 eggs 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan or other firm
cheese (optional) Buttered toast or fresh crusty bread (for serving) Heat oil in
a heavy, medium-sized skillet. Add onion and saute over medium heat, stirring
often, for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and zucchini and saute for 3 minutes or
until vegetables begin to soften. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and cumin. Bring to
a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.
each whole egg into a cup, and then slide it into sauce. Sprinkle eggs with
cheese. Cover and cook over low heat for 3 minutes or until eggs have set or are
done to your taste. Serve with toast.
Makes 2 servings.Faye
Levy is the author of
Feast from the Mideast.