Monday, January 11, 2016

Breaking Eggs & Breaking Rules

Kimchi and mushrooms mingling

I seem to focus on eggs at the beginning of each new year. Usually it's fried eggs with grits. Simple. Back to basics I suppose. A simple breakfast? Deceptively difficult to pull off properly actually.

Fried eggs must be steamed. I cook them in a bit of olive oil and put the lid on for the steaming to expedite the process which delivers that creamy opaque film over the yolks. You have to keep an eye on the progress to be sure that the edges of the whites get a golden, crispy and lace-like appearance. All of this attention for a fried egg? Why? So that you've got an interesting mix of textures, from the crispy edges to the smooth firmness of the whites and that lovely golden yolk, soft enough to coat your mouth with comfort and firm enough not to run onto your new white shirt. Perfection in cooking requires patience and attention to detail.

Then the grits. If you've ever had grits cooked "the right way"--my way--then you know what a heavenly difference they make in your mouth. I cook them with milk and enough salt to make them taste like, well, like grits. I stir and cover, and stir and cover. I add a little water and stir and cover and stir and cover. I take the pot off the heat and prepare the eggs. Once I've got the eggs on my plate, I uncover the grits and add a chunk of butter and stir that into the grits. That's it! No cheese to add--none needed--and no Yankee adding of sugar. Please, you're in the South eating an iconic food of the South, so do it right!
Strange bedfellows--fried eggs, sauteed mushrooms and kimchi!
This year I broke some rules along with the eggs, Same eggs, but I ditched the grits for sauteed mushrooms (fresh from the North East, courtesy of friends, Phyllis and George Nolan) and a generous helping of Kimchi. Yup, that Korean staple which can offend the nose and tickle the palate at the same time. Certainly, as a fermented food, it puts good stuff in your gut, so learn to enjoy the smell of fermenting cabbage.

Go ahead, give it a try. You may find that it's a "menage a trois" that you can enjoy and not feel guilty about!