Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Duck Egg Project I: Poached Egg with Lemon Spinach Soup

There was only too brief a respite from the dreary weather on Sunday so I made most of the afternoon lying on the grass leisurely leafing through the cook's companion by Stephanie Alexander while capturing whatever warmth the sun could offer before it disappeared once again behind the heavy clouds. Earlier at the grocers I had picked up a bag of royal blue potatoes, a bunch of vibrant green spinach and half a carton of fresh duck eggs. The eggs were a splurge - costing me $4.50 for a half dozen, but I simply could not have resisted them even if I tried.

When steamed salted eggs ("harm-dan") and century eggs ("pey-dan"), both preserved versions of the duck egg, are offered at my family's dinner table with bowls of warm fragrant rice, there is little else I would really care for. Having said that, I have never eaten duck eggs prepared anyway else - hence my excitement when I came upon them. Mum suggested I make steamed sponge cakes like the ones my late paternal grandmother made with her bounty but I wanted to cook the eggs in a way that I could compare its texture and taste to a chicken's egg.

With the persuasion of the returning grey weather outside my window, I decided a soup with a gently poached egg would be just perfect for my first duck egg project. The preparation of this nutritious and most importantly, soul-warming meal is shamefully easy, I promise it would take no more than half an hour of your time so I urge you to give it a go.

If like me, you have never tried a poached duck egg, its texture (and size) will catch you a little by surprise. Softly poached, the white has a slight bite and bouncy quality (though not like a squash ball), whilst the yolk a luxuriously thick and almost creamy consistency. All in all, a delightfully rich marriage of texture and flavour with the zesty soup which makes one long for warmer weather. This dish makes for a perfect entree at your next dinner party or as a decadent dinner for one.

Lemon Spinach Soup
1 medium brown onion, roughly chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, smashed
3 medium royal blue potatoes, roughly chopped
1 litre chicken stock
1 large unwaxed lemon
1 bunch english spinach, stems removed
salt and pepper
(serves 4 generously)
sweat onions til soft then add garlic and cook til translucent
add potatoes and cook for a minute or two
pour chicken stock over vegetables and allow to simmer til potatoes are tender
grate lemon zest into the soup
saute spinach in a separate pan, squeeze dry and add to the soup
blitz soup with a blender to a desired consistency (i stopped when a speckled-green-pond effect was achieved)
season with salt, pepper and lemon juice
thicken with thick pouring cream if you like

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