Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in the culinary world. There are by far over 80 thousand ways to prepare and use them. From breakfast, lunch and dinner to dessert they can be eaten in a multitude of different ways. Also, there are more than just chicken eggs; duck, quail and ostrich eggs are all edible and can be utilized in the same ways!
Eggs can be poached, scrambled, fried, shirred, hard boiled, deviled, baked or even whipped into a fluffy meringue. There are classic egg dishes to be found wherever you reside in the world. In this blog, I going to tell you about some of the most popular egg dishes from around the world and give you a new recipe to try from Eastern Turkey called Cilbir.
I personally love eggs and eat them seriously every day. I always say there is no better sauce than a runny egg yolk. It is just so satisfying paired with just about everything with its rich and luscious flavor. To me, it can’t be beat.
Avocado BLT with Fried Egg
Whenever I would be under the weather nothing would settle my stomach or comfort me more than just simple scrambled eggs with buttered toast. One of the hardest things to cook are scrambled eggs. I hear horror stories of eggs sticking to the pan, dry or rubbery end results. This simple yet elegant dish from humble origins really is spectacular when done right. Fun fact: the ancient Romans were first documented as the earliest civilization to scramble eggs, followed closely by China. In Asia, many stir fries, fried rice dishes, soups, and ramen all utilize eggs in some form.
Our journey begins with Italy. When I was growing up, my Sicilian father would make us the most delicious frittatas every Sunday morning. I love this dish because you can sauté just about anything you have in your refrigerator and add the scrambled eggs and cream to it. Bake it in the oven and just like that, you have a beautiful egg centerpiece that is light and fluffy. As you can see below, to this day a frittata topped with goat cheese is still in my repertoire. It is a great brunch dish but can really be eaten any time of day.
In culinary school where I was classically trained in French cuisine, I learned how to perfectly poach eggs, bake eggs en cocotte, and make a classic French omelet. It was also during culinary school that I first made a Hollandaise sauce. If you are unfamiliar with the sauce, it is an egg yolk-based sauce that accompanies one of my favorite egg combinations of English muffin, ham and poached eggs. To my surprise, this classic Egg Benedict dish actually originated in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel! If you want to learn how to make the best hollandaise and perfect your poaching skills be sure to check out our virtual Eggs Benedict Cook Along class on July 18, 2020 at 10am CST with The Chopping Block's Owner/Chef Shelley Young.
Next stop on our worldwide egg-venture is North Africa, Tunisia to be exact, which is the birthplace of Shakshuka. This fact is heavily disputed as you can find variations of this dish from the Middle East where it is very popular in Israel through to the Mediterranean. Shakshuka which literally means “all mixed up” is a shirred method of cooking eggs in a tomato base. On July 11 at 10am CST, I am teaching an in-depth virtual tutorial of how I make Shakshuka where you can cook in real time with me. I hope to see you all there!
I feel like I've seen and done it all when it comes to eggs, so you can only imagine my shock at finding a new way to prepare eggs: the Turkish way. I would never have thought to pair yogurt with poached eggs and a spicy red pepper butter, but it might be my new favorite breakfast now. Fried eggs also would work in this recipe or any way you like your eggs. Serve them with toasted bread for dipping in that illustrious yolk and yogurt mixture.
Turkish Eggs (Cilbir)
Yield 1-2 plates
2-4 eggs, poached
2-3 Tablespoons white vinegar for poaching water
For the Yogurt Spread:
1 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, or to taste
For the Aleppo Butter:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon Aleppo chili flakes
Pro tip: Aleppo pepper is a traditional chile from Syria and Turkey, it is mildly spicy with an earthiness to it. If you can’t find Aleppo, just add 1/4 teaspoon extra of the cumin and paprika and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. Also, 1/4 cup of any oil can be substituted for the butter.
1. Spoon yogurt into a medium bowl. Grate in garlic and mix to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add dill and mix thoroughly. Set aside at room temperature.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; heat until bubbles begin to burst. Add cumin, paprika, and chili flakes. Stir until color is uniform, then turn off heat and let spices infuse.
Note: I over toasted my butter so it was a littler darker than I would have liked, but it had a wonderful hint of nuttiness from the brown butter!
3. Fill a large saucepan with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, pour in vinegar, and keep the water at a gentle simmer.
4. Crack an egg into a small bowl then gently slip egg into the simmering water, holding the bowl just above the surface of water. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Cook eggs until the whites are firm and the yolks have thickened but are not hard, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
Pro tip: If you strain your eggs into a fine mesh sieve before poaching you will not have as much excess whites in your pan like I did.
5. While eggs are cooking, dollop yogurt mixture onto serving plates. Use the back of a spoon to spread yogurt out into a bed for the eggs, carving ridges into the top to catch the oil.
6. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon, dab on a kitchen towel to remove excess water, and place onto the plate of yogurt.
7. Spoon the Aleppo butter all over the eggs and yogurt. Sprinkle sea salt and dill on top.
Pro tip: I added some sautéed spinach and avocado for a little color, not pictured are the sliced tomatoes I added to complement the richness of the dish.
I am so glad that after a lifetime of cooking and eating eggs, I can still learn a new way to prepare them. I hope you enjoyed this culinary egg adventure around the world and learned a new technique or two. Is there an egg dish from a certain part of the world that you enjoy? I would love to hear about it! Please comment below or share in our private Facebook group for our egg cooking challenge this week. I am already thinking of what dish I can make! There is also an eggcellent blog by Chef Ben Williams about the famous Scotch Egg if you want to take your travels even further. I can’t wait to see what you are cooking in your own kitchens.