Sunday, May 12, 2013

Asian Eggs Benedict


This is the longest stretch between two posts in a while, and for good reason.  Garrett and I have been real jet-setters recently, and that's not about to stop for the next few months.  Between our family, friend, and work obligations we've enjoyed one another's presence for roughly ten hours in the last ten days (which usually would only happen when I'm abroad).  Its been busy around here, to say the least.  So since the roasted rosemary tomatoes, I haven't cooked once.

We actually were in the same city last Thursday (Chicago) and went with some friends to be entertained by Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert's Good vs. Evil tour.  I became a big Bourdain fan after reading Kitchen Confidential, followed by all his other books, about seven years ago.  Of course, I love the food/travel thing he had going with No Reservations.  Lately, I've been really enjoying his new series, Parts Unknown (which is, essentially, a bigger-budget No Reservations).  This might seem strange to say about a former crack head, but Bourdain has actually been a pretty big influence on my life, in particular my travel philosophy.  If you check out my "about" page, you'll note that I have a pretty positive take on humanity because travel exposes you to the best of human hospitality.  Bourdain is big on hospitality and what he calls "The Grandma Rule" (always eat "grandma's" food and tell her you love it, she cooked if for you).  Also, back in 2006 I was moved by the ending scene of the China episode of No Reservations: Season 2 when Bourdain contemplates how a country should be judged by how its poorest, rather than how its wealthiest, live.  Bravo.
So Good vs. Evil...I give it mixed reviews.  Garrett and I went to see Bourdain talk on his own about four years ago, and he was much funnier then.  Ripert was cute.  As a whole, pretty schtick-y: Ripert ripped on Bourdain for not being a real cook, Bourdain ripped on Ripert for being a stuffy Frenchmen, they both ripped on other celebrity chefs.  Nonetheless, a few good stories were told and I was happy to hear the more serious conversations about how Ripert runs his kitchen ethically and how both participate in organizations to distribute food to the food insecure. 

On that note, I was feeling pretty guilty that Garrett did grocery shopping last Sunday and I haven't been home myself all week to eat any of that food.  I had to start cooking.  Having regretted not ordering the eggs benedict at Mother's Day brunch this morning (opted for the least healthy salad in the world, instead), I needed to get my benedict fix.  I concocted something Asian-inspired that mimicked the layers of bread, meat, veggies, and egg and I declare it a success.  Just look at that liquid gold...

Combined, the following layers make 4 servings.

Layer 1: Chili Paste Tofu
  • 1/2 package of extra firm tofu (or 4 oz.)
  • 2 tbsp. sriracha
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger or ginger paste
  • 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
Layer 2: Grilled Eggplant
  • 1/2 large baby eggplant or small standard eggplant
  • 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Layer 3: Sesame Spinach
  • 1 package of spinach leaves
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. rice wine vineagar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
Layer 4: Poached Eggs
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (or any vinegar)

Slice your tofu in to four even slabs and place between multiple layers of paper towel, pressing to absorb the liquid.

Heat a grill pan and a large frying pan over medium heat.  Bring a medium pot of water filled halfway to a boil.

Waiting for your pots and pans to heat, slice four thick pieces of eggplant and coat lightly with sesame oil, salt, and pepper.  Place on grill pan.
Mix the ingredients for the tofu's chili paste marinade and rub on the tofu slabs to coat.  Place them on the grill pan.  Flip the eggplant and tofu when both have good grill marks.  Keep warm in the microwave when done.
Heat the tablespoon of sesame oil in the frying pan and add the whole bag of spinach.  Add the rice wine vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, and salt and pepper.  Cook down to wilted and add the toasted sesame seeds.  Remove from pan and keep in microwave to stay warm.
Everyone has a poached egg method, and while mine doesn't make the prettiest poached eggs, it works.  When the water has come to a rolling boil, add 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (I have no idea why, it was just a method I read once and began to use).  Stir the boiling water to get a good tornado going, then quickly crack an egg into the swirling pot.  Stop freaking out, I know it looks odd.  Cook for about three minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper towel to dry off.
Assemble your layers, top with some pepper and sriracha.
Release the liquid gold and enjoy.


  1. This looks so cool! What size was your package of spinach? Definitely gonna make this

  2. Used one of those standard 9oz bags from the packaged salad section...although that makes JUST enough for four. I hope you really enjoy it!

  3. Wow that's a wonderfull blog having all details & helpful. egg benedict

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