Thursday, August 11, 2011
Is size important?
See that ostrich egg? It was my prize in a great thing to do with eggs competition. I am a huge fan of all eggs but I've never tried one of these enormous beauties. Though they often catch my eye at Borough on the Gamston Wood stall and I start to wonder... Was more thrilled than perhaps I should have been when my name came up. Unbelievable when it finally arrived, up close it's not just huge but HEAVY. We're talking an egg you weigh by the kilo.
At which point I suddenly realised I had no idea at all what to do with this exotic monster. It is a rare instance when google offers little by way of practical instruction - I was a touch flummoxed. The Clarence Court box it came in cheerfully informed me it contained the equivalent of 24 hen's eggs and suggested boiling 50 minutes for soft - 90 for hard - or scramble for a family size omelette. Hmmmm. We are but two.
I put it aside for a few days, thought about it, looked at recipes for eggs. It had to be special - slowly but surely the challenge was beginning to delight me. I found a recipe in Christine Manfield's Spice for kangaroo fillet atop a nori omelette and decided to adapt it. Out went kangaroo and hen's eggs, in came ostrich egg and ostrich steak to make a sort of mother and son ostrich delight.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The ostrich egg is a thing of simple beauty and I wanted, if possible, to keep the shell when the rest was but memory.
First? Drain your egg. Definitely needed the man's help. The shell is thick and strong so we used a metal skewer and a hammer to make a hole in one end and repeated the same thing at the other. Takes no time at all to realise these dinky holes will never let the yolk out whole so back to the skewer. Insert it far as you can into one hole and swizzle it round to break up the yolk - you will encounter some resistance to start. This is a bit icky but it gets no worse. Take the skewer out and reinsert it in the other end and repeat.
Place the egg on top of a large jug - I ended up with just over a litre of liquid - and let it drain. Patience is required - it takes about 45 minutes to empty out.
The man - though usually more patient than me - tried to help it along by blowing. Mostly it just made him go red...
While he helped in his own special way, I set about making the nori omelette - chosen in part because it uses 10 eggs. Ten! I loved the idea of this omelette - you make lots of little thin ones then roll them into a big fat one for an egg lovers treat.
Sesame Ostrich Fillet with nori omelette, ginger pikelet and chive cream
Though there are lots of elements, this is really very simple to make and very elegant to serve
1/2 tspn white sesame seeds
1 nori seaweed sheet
100ml olive oil
1 tspn mirin
1/4 tspn fresh ground white pepper
1/2 tspn dried bonito flakes
250g ostrich steak
4 tspns of sour cream mixed with 2 tspns chopped chives
350g maris piper potatoes, peeled
1 large egg (or 50g ostrich egg)
1 tbspn plain flour
2 tspns chopped chives
1 tspn finely grated ginger
1 tspn salt
1/2 tspn fresh ground black pepper
50ml double cream
2 nori seaweed sheets
10 large eggs - or 500g ostrich egg
pinch of salt
1/2 tspn fresh ground black pepper
1 tspn sesame oil
1 tspn fish sauce vegetable oil
Dry roast sesame seeds over gentle heat until just coloured. Toast nori sheet by running it over a direct flame for a few seconds, then chop it finely. Combine sesame seeds, toasted nori, oils, mirin, pepper and bonito, then add meat and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.
To make the pikelet mixture, cut the potatoes into 2 cm dice. Put them into the blender with the rest of the ingredients except the cream and blend briefly. Add the cream and pulse until just incorporated. Pour mixture into a plastic jug, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the nori omelettes, toast the nori sheets over a direct flame - use a match or candle if you don't have gas hob - then cut into strips. Lightly whisk eggs (don't aerate them) then season with salt, pepper, sesame oil and fish sauce and stir in nori strips.
Heat a small 20cm non stick pan and brush it lightly with oil. Ladle in just enough egg mixture to cover the base of the pan, spreading it very thinly. Cook until just set over moderate heat, then turn out onto a clean tea towel. Continue process with remaining mixture, stacking omelettes on top of each other as you go.
Roll omelette stack into a roulade, then wrap firmly in plastic film and secure ends. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
To cook the ostrich steak, heat a heavy based chargrill pan until extremely hot, then remove the steak from the marinade and sear quickly on all sides to just seal - this should take 2 minutes all up. Transfer meat to a plate to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
To cook the pikelets, heat a large non stick skillet and oil lightly, then pour pikelet mixture into 4 oiled egg rings. Cook over moderate heat until bubbles start to appear in batter, then flip them over and cook the other side, removing the egg rings as you do so.
To assemble this amazing dish, cut the omelette roll into 2cm thick slices. Place a hot pikelet in the middle of each plate and top with an omelette round. Finely slice the ostrich steak and carefully arrange 4 or 5 slices on top of the omelette, then season with a little black pepper, add a dollop of chive cream and scatter the rest of the chives.
This was as fabulous to eat as the egg that inspired it!
Obviously I still had a vast amount of egg to use - next day I made a decadently rich quiche and an even more decadent baked chocolate mud cake that kept us in treats for days.
Big thanks to James Ramsden for running that competition!