We LOVE eggs.
Eggs can be used for almost everything and at every meal. There are endless ways to enjoy them - scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, omelettes, en cocotte, in frittata, baked, in cakes and cookies, in mayonnaise….
The white, aka albumen, should be cloudy on a fresh egg. The white contains carbon dioxide and will become more transparent as it ages.
The yolk, aka the yellow, can and should have different shades of yellow depending on the feed the hen is receiving. Hens that are lucky enough to forage naturally will have a deep red-yellow yolk. If the hens eat yellow corn, alfalfa meal and marigold petals, the color will be deep yellow. If they eat wheat or barley, you guessed it, the yolk will be a pale yellow color.
The shell is rich in calcium, lets air in and carbon dioxide out and protects against contamination. Eggs are usually washed before sale, removing the natural protective coating but….we are not sure this is a practice here in China, especially if you buy your eggs at a market.
Now that we have the components down, what are the culinary uses? Lets take it in alphabetical order shall we:
Binding – eggs coagulate as they cook and can thus bind ingredients together. Good examples are meatballs, omelets, frittatas and spaghetti carbonara.
Coating – Beat an egg and you will have instant glue for breading! Use it when making fried fish fillets, chicken breasts or nuggets, veal cutlets or why not vegetables.
Emulsion – An emulsion is a mixture of water and fat and egg yolks contain ecithin that helps with that. How else would you make mayonnaise, hollandaise or ceasar dressing?
Enriching – Eggs add richness, color and flavor to a variety of food such as pasta dough, cakes and bread.
Garnishing – hello? Slice or chop a hard-boiled egg on some lettuce leaves and you have a salad! Spread some on a piece of bread and you have lunch!
Leavening – Whip an egg white and you get tiny bubbles that expand with heat and gives incredible lightness for soufflés, meringues and cakes!
Thickening – When eggs heat up the protein will coagulate and help thicken mixtures in for example custards, puddings and flan.