Innovative takes on the delicacy now spring is in full swing
In our opinion, not enough is made of eggs – they can make a meal in themselves or a finishing touch to another dish. They’re versatile, healthy and oh-so-delicious, which is why we thought it was high time to celebrate them in all their simplicity.
Eggs have been eaten by man since time immemorial: unlike the creatures that lay them (which have a tendency to fly or run away from hunters, gatherers and scavengers), eggs have always bee relatively easy to get hold of. And, as was discovered by the first brave individual to crack one open, they are a rich source of protein. According to the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, man first domesticated birds for the purpose of laying eggs around 1400BC, though there is archaeological evidence for the consumption of eggs since Neolithic times. As the Romans marched west, they found egg-laying hens in England, Gaul and what is now Germany (the Romans themselves were fond of peafowl eggs), while domesticated egg-laying birds arrived in North America on the second voyage of Columbus in 1493.
As far as incorporating eggs into recipes goes, records show that the Romans, Egyptians and ancient Greeks all used the ingredient in various cake and bread recipes. According to Food in History by Reay Tannahill, Egyptian nobles would feast on different kinds of bread and pastries, ‘some varieties made with honey, others with milk, still others with eggs’.
Though the consumption of eggs is widely accepted in most modern cultures, strict Hindus avoid eating eggs, as well as meat, poultry and dairy (Hinduism is, in many ways, the blueprint of modern-day veganism). The use of boiled eggs in the curry dish kedgeree is very much down the British colonialists.
Happily for Dubai residents, eggs are as widely available as anywhere in the world, and as culinary trends have now returned to more traditional, simple forms of cooking, the humble egg now takes the starring role in many dishes at top restaurants around town. Here are our picks.
Hen’s egg at Table 9 by Nick and Scott It’s difficult to choose a favourite dish at Table 9, but the hen’s egg, cepes and vinegar caramel is certainly up there with the best (there’s also an element of nostalgia to this dish – it was the first we tried at the restaurant). The oozing, deep-fried hen’s egg (crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside) is surrounded by invigorating, tart vinegar and mushroom. It’s so good, you’ll find yourself forgetting you’re in a smart restaurant – we ditched our manners and mopped up the runny, golden yolk as though we were eating boiled egg and toast at home. Dhs70. Hilton Dubai Creek, Deira (04 227 1111).
Chilled tea-smoked eggs at Shanghai Chic This Chinese take on the egg results in an aromatic flavour that belies its unusual brown colouring. The taste is largely due to the jasmine rice seed and sugar in which the egg is smoked. It’s a seemingly complex dish that shines for its simple, efficient use of exotic oriental flavour. Included in the Friday brunch; Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs395 (selected house beverages), Dhs495 (bubbly), Dhs145 (for those ages 13 to 17), Dhs95 (children aged six to 12), free for children under six. 12.30pm-4pm.Ibn Battuta Gate (04 444 0000).
Bubble bath at FRESH Fear not – there’s nothing at all soapy about this unusual boiled-egg-based snack. Instead, the simple little dish boasts shades of finely grated lime, lemon juice and mint courtesy of the ‘cloud’ of foamy bubbles embellishing the eggs: blended lemon juice, sugar, mint leaves, a pinch of salt and cold water. Chef Nathan suggests that caviar and chives should be used as an additional garnish. Very nice. Dhs3 per portion. Golden Tulip Al Barsha (04 341 7750).
Scotch egg at Azur Ah, the classic Scotch egg, realised wonderfully at Raffles’ very British brunch. The hard-boiled egg is wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, creating a traditional English delicacy that is as tasty as it is unusual. Have as many Scotch eggs as you want at the Azur brunch. Dhs200 (soft drinks), Dhs350 (selected house beverages). Fri 12.30pm-4pm. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 314 9888).
Eggs Benedict at Armani/Mediterraneo Armani/Mediterraneo serves a classic take on eggs Benedict (everyone’s favourite brunch-time egg offering), combining poached free-range eggs with organic salmon from Loch Fyne in Scotland and a touch of caviar (this is Armani, after all). Dhs75. Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 227 1111).
Truffle egg toast at Mahiki It’s effectively just posh cheese (gruyere, no less) on toast (bloomer bread), but this Mahiki dish also features a lovely runny egg and lashings of truffle oil. An ambitious bar snack if ever we saw one. Dhs75. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 380 7731).
Spicy kayianas with beef sausage at Elia Also known as ‘strapatsada’, this could almost be described as an omelette, although the main components of this traditional Greek dish (aside from the eggs) are tomato and feta. It originates from the Eptanisa, Peloponissos and Crete region: the word ‘strapatsada’ means ‘clumsily chop into small pieces’. The main reason for its popularity is the low cost of the ingredients, as well as the fact that it’s quick and easy to make. It can be eaten hot or cold, and is particularly tasty in summer when tasty Greek tomatoes are in season. Dhs45. Majestic Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 359 8888).
Dashi maki tamago and chawan mushi at Minato Radisson Blu’s Japanese restaurant Minato serves two delectable egg dishes. The first is dashi maki tamago (effectively a Japanese omelette), made from dashi water (Japanese soup stock that forms the basis of dishes such as miso soup), alongside soya, sugar and salt. The chawan mushi (Japanese steamed egg custard), meanwhile, is a mixture of dashi water and soy sauce. The texture is soft, light and creamy with an unmistakably ‘eggy’ tinge to the flavour (trust us, it tastes better than it sounds). Dashi maki Dhs30; chawan mushi Dhs33. Radisson Blu, Dubai Deira Creek, Baniyas Road (04 205 7333).
Eggs en cocotte at The Fountain This dish succeeds on account of its understated simplicity, and comprises whole hen’s eggs steamed in a ramekin (also known as a bouillon bowl), served with smoked salmon and clarified butter. A warming yet light dish, and a great way to start the day. Dhs30. Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Bur Dubai, Oud Metha (04 336 6000).