Blanched asparagus – poached egg – fresh smoked salmon

poached egg with asparagus and smoked salmon

Serves 4

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 knobs of butter

  • 2 lemons

  • olive oil

  • dried chilli flakes

  • 1 head of celery, plus inner yellow leaves

  • a few sprigs of fresh tarragon

  • 4 large free-range eggs

  • 500 g asparagus, woody ends snapped off

  • 8 slices of smoked salmon (roughly 240g)

Half-fill a medium-large saucepan with water, season generously with salt and bring to the boil. Instead of putting a lid on, put a large bowl on top but don't let it touch the water. Put the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper and the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl.



This is going to sound cheffy, but it's simple, so bear with me ... Tear off 8 sheets of good- quality cling film, each roughly 40cm square. Get yourself 4 teacups or small bowls and rub the rims with olive oil. Place a double layer of cling film on top of each one and carefully push it in so that it snugly lines the cups. Use your finger to lightly oil the inside – this will help your egg come out easily at the end. Put a tiny pinch of salt, pepper and chilli flakes into each cup then pick the celery and tarragon leaves and divide them between the cups too – try to help these flavours to spread up the sides, if you can.



Carefully crack the egg into the cling film, then gently push the yolk down so the egg white surrounds it (without it breaking). Bring the cling film up into a bundle, then tie it in a knot and try to squeeze the knot down so it creates a perfect pouch and seals it (imagine a goldfish in a fairground plastic bag).



Once the water is boiling, remove the bowl (the butter should be melted now) and place your eggs in the water along with the asparagus. It takes between 5 and 6 minutes at a gentle simmer for a large egg. Place the bowl or a lid back on top and after 3 or 4 minutes remove the asparagus to the bowl of lemony butter and quickly toss.



Meanwhile, arrange 2 pieces of smoked salmon on each plate. Pull out one of your eggs after 5 minutes and have a little feel (it should have a similar texture to fresh mozzarella). If it still seems undercooked, pop it back in for another minute or so.



Neatly divide the asparagus between your plates. Cut off the cling film knots with a pair of scissors, peel away the rest, then carefully lift the eggs with a tablespoon and serve them right on top of your asparagus. If you've done a good job, not only will you have perfect poached eggs, but the herbs and seasonings will have cooked into the egg and become one, like a stained glass window, which is really cute. Poke a knife into the egg to let the yolk run, and serve with wedges of lemon on the side.

Nutritional Information

Method

Believe it or not, for many years poached eggs were just getting me every time. They were busting, or just generally not great ... It was really only once I started looking after chickens that I started to get the hang of making them. I think even as a chef I'd been taught to create a vortex in the water then pop the egg into the middle, but if you're cooking for lots of people, that's a pain. So this new way guarantees a perfectly poached pouch of egg every time. The exciting thing is that by simply tying the egg up in cling film with a few herbs you can flavour the eggs and have confidence they're going to cook all right.

Half-fill a medium-large saucepan with water, season generously with salt and bring to the boil. Instead of putting a lid on, put a large bowl on top but don't let it touch the water. Put the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper and the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl.

This is going to sound cheffy, but it's simple, so bear with me ... Tear off 8 sheets of good- quality cling film, each roughly 40cm square. Get yourself 4 teacups or small bowls and rub the rims with olive oil. Place a double layer of cling film on top of each one and carefully push it in so that it snugly lines the cups. Use your finger to lightly oil the inside – this will help your egg come out easily at the end. Put a tiny pinch of salt, pepper and chilli flakes into each cup then pick the celery and tarragon leaves and divide them between the cups too – try to help these flavours to spread up the sides, if you can.

Carefully crack the egg into the cling film, then gently push the yolk down so the egg white surrounds it (without it breaking). Bring the cling film up into a bundle, then tie it in a knot and try to squeeze the knot down so it creates a perfect pouch and seals it (imagine a goldfish in a fairground plastic bag).

Once the water is boiling, remove the bowl (the butter should be melted now) and place your eggs in the water along with the asparagus. It takes between 5 and 6 minutes at a gentle simmer for a large egg. Place the bowl or a lid back on top and after 3 or 4 minutes remove the asparagus to the bowl of lemony butter and quickly toss.

Meanwhile, arrange 2 pieces of smoked salmon on each plate. Pull out one of your eggs after 5 minutes and have a little feel (it should have a similar texture to fresh mozzarella). If it still seems undercooked, pop it back in for another minute or so.

Neatly divide the asparagus between your plates. Cut off the cling film knots with a pair of scissors, peel away the rest, then carefully lift the eggs with a tablespoon and serve them right on top of your asparagus. If you've done a good job, not only will you have perfect poached eggs, but the herbs and seasonings will have cooked into the egg and become one, like a stained glass window, which is really cute. Poke a knife into the egg to let the yolk run, and serve with wedges of lemon on the side.

Nutritional Information Amount per serving:

Calories

Calories are just a unit of energy. If you eat more than you use you can gain weight, or lose it if you don't eat enough. How much you need depends on your weight, gender and how active you are, but it's around 2,000 a day.

Carbs

Carbs are a great source of energy and, excluding foods such as potatoes, are made from grains - like bread, pasta and cereal. We all need carbs, but try to make them all wholegrain by sticking to brown bread, rice and pasta - they are much more nutritious.

Sugar

We all deserve a treat sometimes, but try to limit your sugar intake. Most of your sugar should come from raw fruit and milk, because they give us lots of nutrients too. Always check food labels so you know how much sugar you're eating.

Fat

We all need to eat a small amount of fat because it protects our organs and helps us grow. But we need to be careful about how much fat we eat and what kinds of fat, because in higher levels it's associated with weight gain, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Saturates

Saturated or "bad fats" are in beef, pork, chicken skin, butter, cream and cheese. Too much can be bad for our heart and cholesterol levels, but unsaturated or "good fats" in fish, nuts, avocados and some oils can help keep our hearts healthy if eaten in moderation.

Protein

Protein helps our muscles to grow and repair, as well as providing you with essential amino acids. When it comes to protein, try to eat leaner sources such as chicken and fish or non-meat sources such as eggs, dairy, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu and pulses.
  • Calories 290
    15%
  • Carbs 2g
    1%
  • Sugar 2g 2%
  • Fat 20g 29%
  • Saturates 7g 35%
  • Protein 26g 58%
Of an adult's reference intake

Related recipes:

BUYING SUSTAINABLY SOURCED FISH

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Buying sustainably sourced fish means buying fish that has been caught without endangering the levels of fish stocks and with the protection of the environment in mind. Wild fish caught in areas where stocks are plentiful are sustainably sourced, as are farmed fish that are reared on farms proven to cause no harm to surrounding seas and shores.

When buying either wild or farmed fish, ask whether it is sustainably sourced. If you're unable to obtain this information, don't be afraid to shop elsewhere – only by shopping sustainably can we be sure that the fantastic selection of fish we enjoy today will be around for future generations.

For further information about sustainably sourced fish, please refer to the useful links below:

Marine Stewardship Council
http://www.msc.org/

Fish Online
http://www.fishonline.org

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