Toasted Sesame Red Rice and How to Poach Eggs

poachedegg150pxEggs make me happy. You can eat them at any time of the day and they always fill you up. They are cheap, versatile, and a great source of protein. I’ve learned many ways to cook them over the years but I have a special fondness for poached eggs. (I admit that before trying them, I never thought I’d like runny eggs – so give them a chance if you’ve never had them before.)

There is something so comforting about a poached egg served on buttered toast. For one of my classes, I decided to pair poached eggs with a hearty rice dish. I discovered Bhutanese red rice (Whole Foods carries it) in a beautiful cookbook, Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I don’t cook from cookbooks much anymore but if you’re looking for healthy, cheap, delicious rice recipes (that also happen to be gluten-free), I highly recommend it. And if you want to explore the world of eggs, I love the cookbook, Eggs by Michael Roux – the photography is exquisite.

Bhutan is an independent kingdom in the Himalaya. Locally grown red rice, which can grow in high-altitude valleys, is a staple grain of the region. Bhutanese red is a medium-grain rice that can be served in place of brown or white rice, accompanied by hearty dishes like meat stews. This poached egg version offers a lighter but satisfying meal on cold days.

redrice163px1 cup Bhutanese red rice
1 ½ cup water
Pinch sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots, finely diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ cup carrots, finely diced
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
4 poached eggs (see recipe below)

Place rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Swish around well and drain. The water will be a little red. Repeat two or three times, until water runs clear. Drain well in a sieve.

Place rice in a heavy medium saucepan with water and salt. Bring to a boil and skim off foam, then cover, lower the heat to low, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, still with lid on. Turn gently with rice.

While rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and carrots and cook for 5 minutes, then add mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms for around 8-10 minutes or until tender. Once all of the vegetables are done cooking, turn off the heat until the rice is done cooking.

Re-heat mushroom pan, add cooked rice and sauté until flavors are well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, add scallions, drizzle with toasted sesame oil and toss gently.

Divide the rice between four bowls and serve each topped with one of the poached eggs.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Serves 4
Basic rice recipe from Seductions of Rice by Jefferey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Artisan Press, 2003)
Full recipe by Julie Negrin © 2008

Fresh eggs are the best for poaching because they are more likely to gather compactly around the yolk, making a rounder, neater shape. I also prefer using organic eggs. There are many techniques to poaching eggs but this is the “old school” vortex method. If you want to see a visual, check out Smitten Kitchen’s play-by-play photo shoot.

4 eggs
4cups water
Optional: 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar

Cook one egg at a time using this method. Crack one egg into a small glass dish. Keep another clean small, glass dish to the side for when the egg is done cooking.

Add vinegar to water and turn heat to high. Just before the water reaches a hard boil, use a spatula or wooden spoon to briskly swirl the inside of the pan to make a vortex in the center of the hot water. As the vortex is at full speed, drop the cracked egg into the water positioning the bowl as close to the water as possible. Continue stirring so that the vortex helps the egg form into a spherical shape and the egg whites encase the yolk. Turn heat down just a smidge so that it’s not at a full boil – but don’t turn it down too much.

After about 15-20 seconds, stop stirring and allow egg to cook to a total of 2-3 minutes in the water or up to 5 minutes if you don’t want your yolk runny. (Julie note: I usually cook mine just under 2 minutes.) You can test for softness/firmness by lifting an egg on a spoon and gently pressing a finger on the yolk.

Lift the egg from the water with a slotted spoon – drain water well over pan and set inside a small, clean bowl while you continue to finish cooking the rest of your eggs. Use a new clean bowl for each cooked egg so that they don’t stick together. Pat each one dry with a paper towel.

To serve best-quality poached eggs, they should be served as soon as they are pulled from the water. However, it is possible to prepare them ahead of time. To learn how to store and re-heat poached eggs (and pick up some other cooking tips), check out Julia Child’s poaching egg techniques.

If you like nifty kitchen equipment, check out egg poaching tools including William Sonoma’s fancy egg poacher.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Yields: 4 poached eggs
Recipe by Julie Negrin © 2009

I’m off to New York this weekend to work for HealthCorps so I’m not sure if I’ll get a blog post up next week – but stay tuned for more winter recipes coming soon!

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