Egyptian Eggs inspired by 'Birdie Num Nums'

 
Back in April this year, I met up with an ex-colleague who took me to a cafe in Nicholson Street called birdie num nums. Cute huh! Nums nums…<chuckles>. It’s quite a relaxing and spacious place (with a retro feel) to have brunch, cake and coffee and was just simply ideal for a catch-up session. Most breakfast and lunch standards appear on the menu and some Greek specialties too. But what caught my eye was the Egyptian eggs; the dukkah spice playing the egyptian star of this dish. Dukkah is predominantly made with toasted nuts (commonly with hazelnuts) roasted cumin, coriander seeds, sesame seeds and many other spice variations exist today. They are awesome as a simple yet tasty appetiser; just tear or cube some crusty bread or turkish bread, dip them in some extra virgin olive oil, then dab it on some dukkah. For a simple meal, I like to boil some noodles or pasta, melt in some butter then toss through a generous sprinkling of dukkah, some chopped mint and coriander.
   

 The egyptian eggs I ordered came in the form of two delicate, crispy poached eggs ( yes..poached and fried) rolled in dukkah spice, served on a pumpkin and potato stack finished off with crunchy fried shallots and mint leaves. What interested me the most was the fried poached eggs, since poached eggs are so delicate that it takes practice to perfect it, what more coating the poached eggs carefully with flour so as not to break its delicate exterior and then frying them quickly to crisp up the coating while maintaning that lovely runny yolk within. I really enjoyed this twist to the poached eggs; the contrasting delicate crispness of the exterior and the lovely softness within is such a novelty to me.

 same thing but poached eggs left unfried   

I decided to give this a go and the result was simply lovely. It wasn’t too difficult but you have to be extremely gentle with the eggs; from poaching all the way to coating and frying them (I held my breath a lot).  

the pumpkin and potato stack  

The suspenseful moment of truth (mmmm…): poking the fried poached egg to see if the egg yolk is still runny (how it should be)      

 Here is my interpretation of birdie num nums’ Egyptian eggs:  

Egyptian Eggs 
(serves 2)  

For the fried poached eggs
4 eggs
1.5 litre water
90 ml white vinegar
70 g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
300 ml light olive oil for frying (don’t use extra virgin olive oil for frying – at smoking point, its toxic)  

For the rest of the dish
1 potato, cubed (about 2 cm)
250 g pumpkin cubed (about 2.5 cm)
A pot of water
4 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons dukkah
a handful of fried shallots
a little chopped mint/coriander for garnishing
salt and cracked black pepper, to taste 
2 slices of bread, to serve  

Note: 

  • You can see that the main flavour component comes from the dukkah and a correctly poached egg will have a runny yolk encased in completely cooked egg whites; for me the runny yolk acts as a sauce
  • For an crispier poached egg, try coating with breadcrumbs. 

  

Method  

  1. Bring a pot of water to the boil; blanch pumpkin cubes for about 3 minutes; remove and add to ice-cold water; drain thoroughly. Repeat this separately for the potato cubes. 
  2. In a small frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil; when hot, add in the pumpkin cubes, pan-fry until brown all over; insert skewer to test; pumpkin should be tender. Remove to a bowl, season with salt and cracked black pepper and set aside.
  3. Repeat step 2 for the potato cubes.
  4. Toast your bread slices as how you normally would (I like to drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil before toasting the bread slices in the oven)
  5. For the eggs, bring the water and vinegar to the boil in a small pot deep enough so the eggs have room to float when poached. Reduce to simmer (very small bubbles visible).
  6. Crack one egg into a small bowl or flat saucer; gently swirl the water in the pot then slip the egg into the barely simmering water. Let poach for 2-3 minutes until the egg whites are completely set. With a slotted spoon, gently lift the egg and place it in a bowl of cold water. Repeat this poaching process for the remaining 3 eggs. 
  7. Place the plain flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Heat up the oil in a small pan until hot.
  9. With a slotted (perforated) spoon, gently lift one egg from the cold water, drain then dip in beaten egg; place on plain flour; carefully coat the entire poached egg with flour, slide it back on the slotted spoon then slide it into the hot oil. Quickly spoon the hot oil over the top of the poached egg (about 20 seconds)
  10. Transfer to paper towels to drain and repeat step 11 for the remaining 3 eggs.
  11. To assemble, place one bread toast each per person; stack up the pumpkin and potato cubes, then 2 fried poached eggs per person. Spoon the dukkah spice over the eggs and some around the toasted bread, sprinkle some chopped mint and coriander and a handful of fried shallots.
  12. Serve immediately.    

 
Dukkah
(adapted from Taste.com.au)   

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Makes 190 g   

Ingredients   

  110g                      hazelnuts
   80g                       sesame seeds
  2 tablespoons   coriander seeds
  2 tablespoons   cumin seeds
  2 teaspoons       freshly ground black pepper
  1 teaspoons        flaked sea salt (rock salt is really salty so if using, reduce the amount)
     

Method    

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC
  2. Spread the hazelnuts over a baking tray and cook in preheated oven for 3-4 minutes or until toasted. Rub the hazelnuts between a clean tea towel to remove as much skin as possible.
  3. Place the toasted hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Add to the bowl with the hazelnuts.
  5. Place coriander seeds and cumin seeds in frying pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic and seeds begin to pop. Transfer seeds to a mortar and pestle. Pound until finely crushed (alternatively, use a coffee or spice grinder). Add the crushed spices, pepper and salt to the hazelnut mixture and mix well.
  6. Store dukkah in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

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