Syrie had to go out early this morning. So I woke up today alone and with the kitchen to myself. I love cooking breakfast for myself. Syrie prefers the simplicity of a dippy egg or the wholesomeness of bircher. This morning, though, I cooked myself my favourite breakfast: Salmon Benny!
After almost three years of living in Vancouver, I have yet to find a place whose Benny I love. In Sydney, I loved Le Petit Crème's on Darlinghurst Rd (although it was so rich, you often developed slight feelings of regret for the following half hour). Most of the Benny's I've sampled recently, however, have no tang. They taste like a cheesy butter sauce. I think the difference is that I learnt to make Hollandaise with lemon juice and vinegar. I'm not sure vinegar is widely used to make Hollandaise around here.
There are lots of variations on Eggs Benedict. My favourite replaces the ham or bacon with smoked salmon.
Salmon Benedict Recipe
1 English muffin
50 grams/ 2 oz of thinly sliced smoked salmon/ lox
3 egg yolks
Just over 1 cup of salted butter
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp white vinegar
*This will yield enough Hollandaise to cover 4 eggs.
- Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Take the melted butter off and give it about 5 minutes to settle so that the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pot.
- Find a metal mixing bowl and a pot which sit together nicely to make a bain-marie (double boiler).
- Fill the pot with water, but make sure that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the metal bowl when it's placed on top.
- In a metal mixing bowl, beat the eggs, lemon juice and vinegar together.
- Put the bowl on the boiling water and stir the egg mixture constantly (remember, though, that you're not trying to aerate the eggs, just make sure they don't start cooking and sticking to the sides).
- Keep stirring for about seven minutes. Little bubbles might form. That's ok, but just make sure the mixture doesn't scramble. If it gets too hot, turn down the stove to simmer and lift the bowl up for a minute.
- By this stage, the egg mixture should be holding its shape like a soft cream: kind of a "sabayon" (usually made with yolks and sugar).
- The butter should have settled by now, but should still be hot. Use a soup spoon to start ladling the butter into the egg mixture and keep stirring quickly. The point here is to ensure that the mixture does not separate. Be patient. Add the butter one spoonful at a time and make sure it's mixed in.
- When you approach the milk solids at the bottom of the butter, keep spooning the butter in (including the milk solids) but be extra patient, as the solids can split the mixture if you rush it.
- Stop spooning the milk solids in when the sauce reaches the required consistency. If it's too viscous, you can add some hot water.
- Poach the eggs.
- Toast the muffins.
- Place the smoked salmon on the muffins, the eggs on the salmon and the hollandaise on the whole lot.
I know that this sounds like a difficult process. Like most things, it certainly gets easier with practice. When I started making it a few years ago, the sauce would often become separated or form lumps. If this happens to you, don't despair: give it a pulse with a blender.
The prep and cooking time is approx. 25 minutes. The results are well worth it!