Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chrysanthemum salad with poached egg and warm bacon vinaigrette

In the spirit of gilding the (voodoo)lily, I thought I'd take the classic Salade Lyonnaise and take it in a different direction. Instead of the traditional frisée, I used crysanthemum leaves, which are slightly less bitter and impart a green, herbal note to balance the rich egg and dressing. They're sold in Asian markets as tong hao.

Yes, Antonia made a similar salad on this week's Top Chef, but I think mine is better. And you'll just hafta believe me, I really had been thinking of doing this before I saw the show, since I already had the giant bag of chrysanthemum leaves (see last week's Fubonn spree, wherein I also picked up those pea shoots).

Besides, it's not like Antonia invented Salade Lyonnaise. And she sure as hell didn't serve hers on a shady patio in perfect 80 degree weather. Cue birds chirping and the sounds of children's laughter.

Chrysanthemum salad with poached egg and warm bacon vinaigrette
Serves 2 for brunch or a light supper. Don't use an aluminum pan for this or else the vinegar you'll add will react with the pan and make everything taste tinny and "off".

~6 cups chrysanthemum leaves (this was a full typical produce-sized bag, after cleaning)
2 eggs
4 slices of bacon, minced
2 tbsp minced shallot
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 c white wine vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon or spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp minced thyme

Stem and scrupulously wash the greens, pinch off the large stems and shake the leaves out to dry (since I don't have a salad spinner, I invented a technique where I soak them in a sink of cold water, shaking them a bit to knock out the dirt, then strain and rinse again, then place a large bowl over the strainer and shake off the water).

Poach the eggs - simmer in hot water with a splash of vinegar until the whites set up. You don't want the water boiling or you'll end up with wispy whites like egg drop soup. I crack the eggs into a small bowl and then gently dip the bowl into the water and slide them out. Note that the photos clearly show that I overcooked mine ever-so-slightly. You want runny yolks. Mine were more like custard. Hey, nobody's perfect.

Render the bacon bits for a minute over medium-low heat, then add the shallot and lemon zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon and shallot are browned and crispy. Remove from heat, add the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, mustard and thyme and whisk until emulsified. Salt and pepper (and more lemon or vinegar) to taste. Yes, you have just made salad dressing with bacon fat. You can thin this with a little olive oil if you want to make it healthier, but if you're eating salad with bacon and eggs on it, I'd say you've already given up.

Plate the leaves and top with poached egg, then dribble the bacon vinaigrette over the top. Add a crack of black pepper to finish. Serve with a crusty bread (we had poppyseed bialy) and prosecco (or leftover Domaine Labbé).

Wumpy stared at us and pawed pitifully at the screen door the entire time we ate.


peter said...

OMG that looks totally bromeliacious.

The only thing that makes a meal like that better than the birds chirping, etc. is knowing that you're torturing a pea-brained cat as well while you eat.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Love the salad Heather! Hope you saved a bit for the cat?

Peter G said...

I never get my poached eggs right. They usually end up in a giant mess! Love the bacon vinaigrette and perfect with the chrysanthemums. "I tawt I taw a putty tat..."

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, see. Now you're talking. I could never stand the pot-scrubber feeling of frisee in my mouth.
Chrysanthemum leaves (or tong hao, thanks). Yes.
Happy shady patio to you.

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

Hey baby girl, glad to see you back in the game of cooking.

I don't like viscous-looking, runny egg yolks. Your egg looked GREAT to me. I have never seen chrysanthemum greens here. Dandelion greens are about as exotic as my farmer's market gets.

Peter M said...

Chrithanthanum leaves? This is totally cool rabbit food...who'da thunk it.

Heather, with your background, you should do more on what wild greens & veg we can forage for as well.

Today, you're Top Chef, F to Antonia.

glamah16 said...

You have been busy this weekend! Yes your salad is much better. Honestly this is the my least favorite season of Top Chef and the group is just weird , bitchy, and all look like they could take a bath.JMO.
Anyway I would pay to sit in your serene setting and chow down on some good food.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I love Salade Lyonnaise no matter what the form - I make it all the time. I'll have to try this Chrysanthemum take on it some time. I hope it cools off for you soon!

Bellini Valli said...

Another new food that needs to be tried...chrysanthemun leaves:D

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, i almost fainted at the sight of gooey egg and bacon. As far as i'm concerned you can put any green thing underneath it and it will work. You won my heart. Where's the marriage license?

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

That looks delicious! We use chrysanthemum leaves in japanese cooking, but I've never tried them raw. I'm going to have to give this a try next time I have some.

Toni said...

This looks like the ultimate lunch for perfect 80 degree weather! I've never made this with chrysanthemum leaves - way cool!

Wumpy? Love it!

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Very interesting, I did not know that chrysanthemum leaves are edible... :)

Thank you for your comment on my blog, I replied here:

Have a wonderful day Heather,

David said...

first off, I dig your style.However, in reference to this~(since I don't have a salad spinner, I invented a technique where I soak them in a sink of cold water, shaking them a bit to knock out the dirt, then strain and rinse again, then place a large bowl over the strainer and shake off the water).~I would like to point out that a kitchen sink is "statistically", bacterialie, filthier than a toilet. I have a simalar technique of using the same large bowl that you use shake the collender, to rinse the greens

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Wumpy? Wumpy?? No wonder the poor cat looks so strung out. What kind of a mother are you? ;-)

canarygirl said...

Holy freaking coincidence! *Just* last week I made garlicky bacony sauteed spinich topped with a poached egg, and thought...YES. This is what living is all about. Now I see your absofreakingfabulous salad, and now want to try it with Chrysanthemum.

Núria said...

I didn't know that Chrysanthemum leaves were eadible! They surely look wild green on the plate and the rest of the ingredients combine perfectly. Hey, do you sleep with your apron on? You are working so hard lately!!! ;-)

Núria said...

Ai, I forgot to say I LOVE that cat of yours! What an elegance!!!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow! That is super duper fabulous Heather! I have never eaten chrysanthemum leaves before. I have had them in herbal tinctures before but that is about it. This salad looks totally awesome! Poor, sad kitty!

michelle @ TNS said...

poached egg on greens is one of the best thing ever.

but your cat has a stupid name and looks like he's one egg shy of a dozen.

Heather said...

Jube - That cat is tortured without even doing anything. He's just that way.

Judy - That cat needs bacon like a hole in the head.

Petah - I have only perfectly poached once. The only other time I got the yolks right, the whites were runny. :(

Cookie - MY problem with frisée is that the pieces are always so huge and crazy-shaped that I get dressing all up on my cheek and chin.

Nikki - Runny yolks make the tiniest bit squeamish, but as long as I have some bread to dip, I can handle it. :)

Peter the Greek v. 1.0 - I think about picking more and sharing, but usually when I see something good, I'm at least a few hours from home with no refrigeration. :( Next time I see some miner's lettuce, though!

Courtney - If nothing else, this is the worst-looking bunch. But yes, they are an impudent bunch, with all their back-talking and finger-pointing. >:(

Jen - It's already cooler today, thank goodness. I can really cook again (I hope!).

Valli - They're really nice! I think the flowers are really pretty too - the garland chrysanthemum has yellow and white striped blossoms.

M. Zen - Haha! You flatter. Unfortunately for you, the marriage license has someone else's name on it. :)

Marc - I would love to see you make a dish with shungiku. Do you just use it in nabemono, or are there other dishes?

Toni - Wumpy is a nickname I gave my husband's cat because he's such a fwumpus. It just stuck!

Margot - Not only are they edible, they are delicious! You have a lovely day, too!

David - When I do the second rinse, it's just in clean water in the colander. I figure whatever is in my sink (which I already scrub like a crackhead) isn't worse than what's in the dirt on the leaves. :D

Sketti - Oh, make no mistake, that cat is pure evil. He's Scott's cat (Cesar is his real name).

Canary - Ha! I was lamenting my lack of garlicky croutons or something to sprinkle on top! That is eery!

Núria - I sleep with my apron on (and nothing else!). Hahaha joking! I am just trying to eat healthier this time of year. :D That cat isn't elegant, he's insane (but very cute).

Jenn - I knew they could be used medicinally, which is why I assumed they'd be bitter (like frisée), but these are a different species than the variety used in Chinese medicine.

Heather said...

Michelle - I gave him that nickname, but he deserves it. Besides, "Wumpy" sounds cuter than "Seizure" (his name is Cesar).

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Children laughing!? Pics of kitties? Are you going all soft on us, Heather? Thanks for the Chinese name...I'll have better luck finding those chrysanthemum leaves! There's a fab Chinese grocery in only hope.

Brittany said...

I am not sure which urge I am feeling is more intense- devouring that salad (bacon and eggs in salad? Um yeah. I'm fucking THERE), or picking up wumpy and snuggling my face in his/her(?) fur.

cook eat FRET said...

hard to improve on any of that. you've got beautiful greens, pork, plenty of pork fat, an obligatory egg and let's see...

ok. i've got it. a big fat piece of chocolate cake is what would improve that dinner. but that's about it.

We Are Never Full said...

there is something about egg yolk that gets my mojo going every time - if ya know what i mean.

ok, maybe you don't.

and you've introduced me to chrysanthemum leaves... who knew!?

this looks awesome and i know it's better than that bitch on top chef. it's top chef for christ's sake. they aren't all that good! you're better!

Angela said...

Splendid! I love these salads and your twist is brilliant. I'm inspired. Nicely done!

Emiline said...

Ohhh...Wumpy. Cute.

I'm pumped up for tonight's Top Chef. That salad looked really good that Antonia made.

This one is even better! You can really get some amazing produce in your area.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

You're quite well versed on Japanese food. I'm impressed. Yes, I use it in nabe's but I also love making oshitashi with a little goma-ae or using it in stir-fry's.