13.077 Eggs Benedict

Cycle 13 – Item 77

23 (Wed) March 2022

Eggs Benedict


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Eggs Benedict is an American dish.  Poached egg + Canadian bacon + English muffin + Hollandaise sauce.  Usually served for breakfast/brunch.  Origin stories, including the source of the name, differ widely, though most involve New York in some way.

The cookbook – damaged stock from work – has been sitting on my shelf for a year, never thought to look at it until last weekend.

In recent months, I’ve been following Chef J Kenji López-Alt with growing appreciation.  First through recipes online (see for example 13.005 Pizza (1)), then articles in The New York Times and videos on YouTube (see for example 13.071 Garlic Noodles), and now his cookbook The Food Lab.  One one hand, he takes an evidence-based approach to recipe development: the cookbook documents loads of experiments to show why certain techniques work better than others – indeed, he worked for America’s Test Kitchen early in his career.  On the other hand, he’s very casual in execution: the videos typically show him improvising dishes, tossing in random ingredients from the fridge, eyeballing amounts, adjusting as he goes, even when featuring his own recipes.  He’s simultaneously a self-professed nerd, at times know-it-all and snobbish, yet down-to-earth and free of affectation.  Anyway, I’m keen to see where the cookbook will lead GMTD.

I was happy to find that the freshest eggs – at least according to production date, March 20 (3 days ago) – came from my favorite food producer Pulmuone.

The recipe for poached eggs recommends using the freshest possible eggs, because the whites break down inside the shell over time, scattering when placed in the poaching water.

Fortunately, eggs in Korea are stamped with production and expiration dates.  Even better, the ink on the shells gradually fades to show decreasing freshness.

I was startled to see such a wide range of dates on different egg brands at our local supermarket, the oldest stamped on March 5 (18 days ago).  Eggs sold in Korea, including at our local supermarket, are typically stored at room temperature.

Unlike eggs sold in the States, or the Philippines, where a carton on the shelf sometimes includes a cracked egg or two (necessitating a quick check inside the carton before purchase), eggs sold in Korea are almost never broken – I can’t recall ever finding a single cracked egg (so I never bother to check – in fact, the cartons are often sealed).  

My first experience poaching eggs (in the European style), the eggs turned out pretty well.  Even if fresh, the whites still seemed to scatter a lot, which was fine for the finished eggs, but left behind loads of residual bits that needed to be scooped out between batches.

The main problem was the Hollandaise.  While the recipe is supposedly “fool-proof,” it failed to emulsify.  The sauce tasted fine but remained runny, slipping off the egg and seeping into the muffin.  I’ll give it another chance, though I can always fall back on Julia’s method (see for comparison 3.156 Asparagus in Hollandaise Sauce).

Both Canadian bacon and English muffins are not readily available in Korea, so I had to make do with local substitutes.

The first dish from The Food Lab was disappointing, but I remain confident.


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