Winters here in Western Washington can sure feel long. By the end of February, the consistently dark and wet days begin to feel like they will never end. You wake up with your house solidly encased in darkness, turn all the lights on (for mental health reasons) and before you know it, your afternoon goes from murky dampness to pure blackness once again. And it’s not even anywhere near dinner time yet.
Lately, our still drizzly days have been punctuated here and there by an actual sunny day. That’s when you’ll find us running outside dressed in tee shirts and shorts. Who cares if it’s still a bit cold out? Who even notices that we are blinding one another with the full moon glow of our winter skin?
We tilt our faces up to the sky, grateful for the light. We greet our friends, whom we haven’t seen since we traded cookies and jars of hot fudge in December, with hugs and say things like, “You made it through the dark months!”
Hello Spring. You are here!
For me, Spring is about fresh eggs. Not those bland ones from the supermarket that we dye for Easter. I’m talking about rich, Omega-laden yolks like the ones local pastured hens have been busy laying now that there is more light each day (Did you know, chickens need about 14 hours of daylight to be able to lay consistently?).
Eggs make me think of my little Chinese mom who raised six hungry kids by herself with a simple dish of steamed white rice and coin purse eggs. We ate a lot of this stuff. It was filling and cheap but still felt special. After all, each “coin purse” contained the promise of wealth and prosperity.
Before you start on the eggs, make sure you already have a pot of cooked rice done. Long-grain is good. So is medium-grain brown. Today we made haiga, a Japanese type which is almost white but not quite brown rice. The bran has been removed, but the germ still remains. It's an in-between thing. Anyway...
It’s time to start your eggs.
You’ll be cooking one egg at a time, but the whole process goes pretty quickly. You'll be eating very, very soon. I promise.
Heat two tablespoons or so of oil of your choice (I like sunflower or peanut) in the bottom of curved cooking vessel – like a wok, for instance. Make sure it’s good and hot. This is important!
Take one fresh egg (now’s definitely the time to splurge on organic, farm fresh) and crack it into your little pool of heated oil. Alternatively, you can place your egg in a bowl or cup and then slide it in. But we live on the edge around here. Crack it right in, I say!
Once it goes it, it will sizzle and pop in a most satisfying way. The white should puff up and start to set around the edges. I like to tip the pan to one side to encourage the white to stretch a bit toward one side. This will make it easier to fold.
At this point, swirling the oil a bit around the whole egg is good too. The bottom will start to become crispy and develop brown spots. The yolk will still be wiggly with some uncooked white immediately around it.
It’s been about a minute-and-a-half now. Take your spatula and carefully work it under one side of the egg.
Gently fold the white over the yolk so that it comes together with the opposite edge of white. Introduce them. Let the edges be friends.
This next part might get a little tricky, especially if you are cooking on a flat surface. You might need to tilt the pan a bit and try to nestle the egg into the curved inner part. You will need to hold your spatula for a few moments keep the egg used to its new position. It will quickly set.
When you let go, you’ll see that you’ve made a chubby purse-shaped package with a delicious yolky “coin” inside. So cute. It wiggles when you touch it.
The proper way to eat it?
Scoop some rice into a bowl. Gently lay your egg on top. Add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkling of green onions. Shower it with some sesame seeds and it's practically fancy. Poke the soft yolk and let it run down into the hot rice. Mix this rich, sunshine-y concoction up with your chopsticks then savor each bite.
Here’s to sunny days ahead! Enjoy!
Note: If you have some greens lying around in your veggie bin (Radish greens are great – we don’t like to waste anything around here), go ahead and sauté them with a little garlic and oil. Add that to your bowl and you will have a beyond satisfying meal.