May 10, 2008

Eggs Jǐnshàng

One of my favourite comfort foods is soba (the higher the buckwheat content the better) with Chinese broccoli and eggs over easy.  The soba should be al dente, and the Chinese broccoli boiled briefly and then sauteed (without oil, preferably) with soy sauce and black pepper.  The eggs are the most complicated part of the dish; first, you have to cook finely minced garlic and green onions in a very hot skillet in sesame oil and a little soy sauce so that the outside gets caramelized, and then reduce the heat a little, distribute the onions and garlic evenly over the pan, and crack the eggs over it.  When the eggs are done the yolks should be completely runny, and in fact it's ideal to have the white just a little runny as well, so the eggs are essentially done as soon as they've been flipped.  Other people might find the combination of textures a little off-putting, but when I eat it all is briefly right with the world.

In these trying times, however, one must tighten one's belt - not literally of course.  I don't eat less, but rather more of cheaper foods.  Note that the image at left contains, not delicious soba, but plain white rice, and ordinary broccoli (okay, that's not really a compromise, it's just what I bought this week).  Further notice that the whole thing is smothered in oyster sauce.

Without the distinctive flavour of the soba, the dish overall was definitely lacking.  Although the fishy ("umami" is the technical term) taste of oyster sauce is nothing like the nuttiness of buckwheat, it fulfills the same role pretty well.  The two flavours are complimentary, at least to me - I often eat kasha with Worcestershire sauce.  Of course it goes very well with broccoli chinese or otherwise; I've actually started to use a little instead of soy sauce even when I do have soba, sometimes, although the result is heavier and greasier seeming.

(As you've already guessed, the photo is by the esteemed Phil once again.  Amazingly, he's very tolerant of my interrupting him during work to take arty pictures of my lunch.)

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