9.4.2011

Heather * Sous Vide Tempura Fried Egg Yolks

When Heather mentioned she would be using her sous vide cooker to make tempura fried egg yolks, I was admittedly skeptical. For one, it seemed a little strange. I’ve had many a fried egg — but a fried egg yolk? Not so much. Also, sous vide didn’t seem to me a particularly sexy style of cooking. Not that sexiness is a prerequisite in my kitchen, but there are certain things I enjoy: the tactical feel of food, the ability to improvise as I go along, the spontaneity of throwing together a meal. Sous vide cooking, in contrast, requires careful planning and a somewhat scientific approach to preparation.

Heather

The term ‘sous vide,’ which is French for ‘under vacuum,’ is a rather apt descriptor of the process: food is sealed in an airtight plastic bag, submerged in a water bath and cooked at a precise temperature, sometimes for a very long time – 72 hours is not unusual for a tough piece of meat, for example.  Food can never be over-cooked, because it can never reach a temperature hotter than the one you’ve set for it. Moreover, because the food is cooked in vacuum-sealed packaging, none of the natural juices and flavor are lost in the process. Despite these benefits, I still wasn’t quite sold on the machine.

But then, as Heather and I got to cooking, something truly magical took place. A dozen humble eggs voyaged deep into the depths of that silver sous vide cooker, and a mere half hour later, re-emerged as something different entirely. You couldn’t tell at first, but underneath their shells, the eggs had morphed into shining little works of art. As the whites transformed into velvety custard — smooth and silky — the yolks grew thick, rich and buttery. But we weren’t stopping there…

Three small bowls were placed on the counter. The first one contained a mixture of flour, cayenne and smoked paprika; the second, a beaten egg; and the third, a bed of panko (a type of bread-crumb commonly used in Japanese cuisine). After gently removing the whites, Heather ran each yolk through the flour, dipped it in the beaten egg, and then dredged it in delicate flakes of panko.

Finally, the yolks were fried until golden, then plated atop swirls of spiced crema — a combination of paprika, cayenne, crème fraîche and aioli.

And at that point, I was forced to re-evaluate my stance on the sous vide. To my surprise, the eggs weren’t strange at all. Exotic maybe, but also delicious, decadent and yes — sexy! These were some sexy eggs — on the one hand, crunchy, spicy, salty, and on the other, subtle, soft, gooey.

Although the eggs would make a fantastic contribution to a dinner party, these are not every-day eggs, nor are they trying to be. Likewise, sous vide cooking isn’t suited for everyone. Because the device does run on the expensive side, and the technique is so precise, it likely won’t appeal to the casual homecook. However, for those of you who, like Heather, appreciate the finer details of cooking and take joy in crafting beautiful, more elaborate dishes, sous vide can give you truly great results.

Three Quick Questions…and Heather’s Answers

It’s your last meal. What do you have?

I’d have something really homey, like polenta with sautéed mushrooms, a slow-poached egg and a little drizzle of truffle oil.

Your kitchen is burning down. What’s the one thing you grab?

I like my sous vide a lot — I sometimes call it my precious. But I’d probably grab my knife block. My sister used to date a chef and he gradually built up my chef’s knife collection. Then she dumped him without really thinking of how it would affect my collection! (laughs) But they’re really great, so I think I’d probably grab those.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

Probably the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang. Some of the recipes are pretty involved, but the rest of it is really manageable. And it’s a funny cookbook, just filled with epithets. He writes just like he talks, and it’s fun to read the story behind how the recipes came about.

Sous Vide Tempura Fried Egg Yolks
Print
Recipe type: Appetizer, Side
Author: Heather
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 8
There are two versions of these eggs: Cayenne & Paprika Spiced Eggs and Truffled Eggs. The first three steps in the instructions apply to both versions. After that, follow the instructions for the individual version you would like to make.
Ingredients
  • CAYENNE/PAPRIKA SPICED EGGS
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 tbsp aioli (or mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1½ tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • vegetable oil (for frying)
  • sea salt to taste
  • TRUFFLED EGGS
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp truffle salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup truffle oil
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • vegetable oil (for frying)
Instructions
  1. FOR ALL EGGS:
  2. Cook 8 eggs in a sous-vide cooker for 45 minutes at 147°.
  3. Plunge the eggs in ice water to cool them. This may be done several hours in advance.
  4. When the eggs have cooled, gently peel away the shells and egg whites, leaving the yolks intact.
  5. FOR CAYENNE/PAPRIKA SPICED EGGS:
  6. Make the crema: Combine 2 tablespoons of aioli or mayonnaise and ¼ cup of crème fraîche. Mix in about 1 teaspoon cayenne and 1 tablespoon smoked paprika to taste. The crema should be heavily seasoned and light pink.
  7. Prepare the eggs: Bread the eggs. First, dip them in a combination of 3 tablespoons of flour, ½ teaspoon cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika. Next, dip them in egg (one egg beaten). Then dredge them in panko. This can be done a few hours in advance. Discard any broken yolks, as they won’t cook properly.
  8. Fry eggs in vegetable oil at 350° for one minute.
  9. To serve: Place the tempura eggs on 1 tablespoon of crema, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve.
  10. FOR TRUFFLED EGGS:
  11. Make the truffle aioli: Combine 2 egg yolks, ½ teaspoon truffle salt, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a ¼ teaspoon of dry mustard, and ¼ cup of truffle oil in a food processor. With the food processor running, slowly pour in ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil until you have a thick, sunny aioli. This can be made several days in advance.
  12. Prepare the eggs: Bread the eggs. First, dip them in a combination of 3 tablespoons of flour and ½ teaspoon of truffle salt. Next, dip them in egg (one egg beaten). Then dredge them in panko. This can be done a few hours in advance. Discard any broken yolks, as they won’t cook properly.
  13. Fry eggs in vegetable oil at 350° for one minute.
  14. To serve: Place the tempura eggs on 1 tablespoon of aioli. Sprinkle with a bit of truffle salt to taste, and serve.
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Comments

  • I’ve never really known much about this method of cooking (sous vide), so I think this is so interesting. And to cook the egg sous vide and then to fry it…wow!

    • Kathryn

      I know!! I was a little blown away. Heather is an incredible cook.

  • Such an interesting method of preparation…the egg does look wonderful!

    • Kathryn

      Definitely interesting- I was a little hesitant at first, but pleasantly surprised :)

  • Ooooh, this is entirely wonderful. As I sit here eating my yogurt, I’m wishing my breakfast was this instead.

    • Kathryn

      Thanks, Amy!

  • Oh myyyy… looks so good. I love egg yolks that just melts in your mouth and this is one that we all know will taste awesome!

    • Kathryn

      Jessica — Thank you! I actually don’t normally love runny yolks, but with the crispier shell I found these really, really good.

  • Sorry if I am being pedantic here, but that looks like a regular fry, not a tempura fry. A tempura will utilize a bit of cold water or a bubbly beverage such as soda water to make it lighter.

    No matter, I am making this asap. :)

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