The French Do Love to Fry


Well, I can’t speak for the country as a whole, these days, but back in the heyday of Classical French cuisine, frying was THE thing to do.

Escoffier’s The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery is not a cookbook for the beginner. It’s less cookbook and more, as the title suggests, a guide. It assumes the cook has quite a bit of preliminary experience with basic and advanced preparation methods. With over 5,000 “recipes” (mostly paragraphs telling you what to do, but not how and with only a few measurements given) it’s a treasure trove of all that haute cuisine was back in the early twentieth century.

Rambling through old school notes I was reminded of a particular dish that was a lot of fun to make, but it required yet another specific skill: How to Fry an Egg.

As most folks can “fry” an egg quite sufficiently, you might wonder why this is considered a special skill that takes practice and a bit of finesse to complete well.

Here’s the word from the man, himself:

1294  Oeufs Frits — French Fried Eggs

In the long list of ways of preparing eggs, that for fried eggs is relatively insignificant when compared with others. Although fried eggs are used to a great extent for breakfast in England and America, correctly speaking they are Oeufs a la Poele or pan-cooked eggs; in both countries the true fried egg is virtually unknown.

So, if our sunny side ups and over-easys aren’t technically fried eggs in the French sense, how do you fry an egg?

Deep fry it, of course.

Even our chef-instructor was a bit puzzled by how to go about it. Early attempts yielded messy results until he hit upon the seeming trick: to get the oil moving before the egg enters the picture. This makes forming a neat, fried egg with the white enveloping the yolk (which is left liquid) a much easier task.

How to (French) Fry an Egg

  1. Start with a small pan, like an omelet pan, with enough depth to contain an inch of oil without overflowing. Heat the oil until just before it begins to smoke–you’ll notice the oil “walking” along the pan, give it a minute or two more before proceeding. Oil that’s not hot enough will cook the yolk before the whites are sufficiently browned while oil that is too hot will, predictably, burn the bits of egg white that you want to coax around the yolk. Prepare a plate lined with paper towels to drain the eggs on once cooked.
  2. Break an egg onto a saucer. You’re going to fry these one at a time and cracking it directly into the oil encourages splattering and could cause burns. You can season the egg with salt and pepper now, or wait until it’s cooked to season it; I prefer to do it after frying, Escoffier prefers before.
  3. With a chopstick or wooden spoon, stir the oil rapidly to get it to spin a bit. This turned out to be the secret to making this task easier as the whirlpool effect helps keep the eggs from spreading too much once added to the hot oil.
  4. Slide the egg from the saucer into the spinning oil.How to French Fry an Egg
  5. Continue stirring the oil, a bit more gently, and scoot the edges of the white closer to the egg yolk.
  6. As the egg starts to firm up, fold the white over the yolk and keep turning the egg until it sticks.
  7. Continue to turn the egg as it starts to brown along the edges. It’ll puff up a bit but should not explode.
  8. Once the egg seems sufficiently done, gently lift it from the oil and transfer it to the towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with as many eggs as you need for your dish and serve ASAP!

To those not used to this sort of fried egg, it’s like a cross between a poached egg and one sunny-side up. It’s not greasy, despite being deep fried, and it’s a great option for the next time you’re feeling the Eggs Benedict craving.

Of course, I had a different recipe in mind when I wandered down the fried egg rabbit (chicken?) hole. Come back next week to find out what it was! (Though if you follow me on twitter, you might have already seen it!)

Restaurant Review: Sabor Latino


I listen to a raido station with very little chatter–I prefer listening to music, not deejays, on my morning and afternoon drives. Advertising is still there, though, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

As is the case with Sabor Latino, a new Peruvian restaurant in Tallahassee, located near Millennium Day Spa on Kerry Forest Parkway.

Since we’ve only just started to hear their ads and the restaurant itself is still a little on the bare side, I’m guessing they’ve only been open for a couple weeks. Because of that I’m willing to be a bit more lenient of some things than a place that’s been open for several months. For instance:

  • Our waiter was young, very young, and could use some practice in general. We had to request napkins and silverware after the bread was delivered. And when I was signing the receipt he was all but bent over trying to either look at my signature to make sure it looked like my card (which he’d already returned) or checking out the tip I was giving him. Either way, personal space invaded.
  • Their menu is lengthy but only half the items have prices next to them and, therefore, available to order. Most places I would be really irritated by this, but it shows they have a goal but are starting slow. At least that’s what I hope they’re doing. Even though I’d be perfectly happy to see a 1-page, photocopied menu with a few good things rather than empty page protectors.
  • Prices of the items they do have available range from $10 to $20 for entrees, $6 to $8 for “entries”–what we took to mean appetizers, at least on Todd’s menu, mine was missing that page–yet they have bare tables; no linens or even the butcher paper treatment. That’s sorta inconsistent in my mind but, again, growing pains are to be expected.
  • A large flat-screen television was playing ID (Investigation Discovery) while we were there. Murder during dinner works for dinner theater, not so much this place.

Now that those little observances are out of the way, let’s get to what’s really important: the food!

We attempted to order the Sabor Latino Cebiche (a mix of fish and shellfish–the ceviche I’m used to) but they had run out. Instead we go the regular Cebiche which was simply fish “cooked” in lemon juice and seasoned with red onion and aji amarillo peppers.

Cebiche at Sabor Latino

Cebiche from Sabor Latino

Though “simply” hardly does this dish justice. I think the last time I had ceviche was at Melhana where I worked, briefly, after Culinary School. We served it as an appetizer (as we’d attempted to order this, but it came out after our entrees did) and I remember it being very good. This was amazing. The lemon juice was tart, yes, but it did wonderful things to the pieces of fish. The slice of potato and sweet potato were a nice touch, a Peruvian custom so I’ve read, and the lemon and peppers with the sweet potato are giving me ideas of side dishes to come. Yum!

Aji de Gallina from Sabor Latino

Aji de Gallina from Sabor Latino

Todd ordered the Aji de Gallina, a shredded chicken dish that looks like a curry but tastes… Peruvian? The “creamy yellow salsa” is a bread-thickened chili, broth and cheese sauce and it’s something I think we’ll be trying at home some day soon. One thing: the recipe I found listed pecans as part of the sauce (a lot of old sauces were thickened by bread and nuts) though we didn’t see direct evidence of it and Todd didn’t feel ill despite an allergy, if you are allergic to nuts you might want to ask before ordering this dish.

Bistec a lo Pobre from Sabor Latino

Bistec a lo Pobre from Sabor Latino

Since a lot of the dish descriptions included tomatoes, I ordered what appeared to be a safe yet tasty option: the Bistec a lo Pobre. Even though the menu description stated it was a simple dish I did expect more seasoning on the steak than just pepper. And while I was asked how I liked my steak (answer: medium rare) it was so thin it was overall medium with only the thickest part having a bit of pink. The sides were listed as rice, fried egg, fried potatoes and fried bananas. Still not sure where the bananas were supposed to come in (they were not on the plate and I chose not to ask our young server) but the potatoes, as you can see, were log cabin-stacked french fries. Which is fine, but not exactly what I was expecting.

The egg over the rice is the one thing I will take a little issue with. It’s one thing if this was more of a steak-and-egg meal but the menu states and my research confirms that Peruvian food features a significant amount of French influence. I recall days in French Classical class where we topped several things with fried eggs–the most memorable being a tower of crouton, supreme of chicken, asparagus, crawfish tails and fried egg. The point of this was to cut through all the layers, egg to base, and the yolk mixes in and makes an amazing sauce.

For this to work, you have to have a liquid yolk. The yolk on the egg I was served was over-medium. It should have been over-easy if over-anything; sunny side up would have been better.

Overall impression? Lots of room to grow but some serious potential. I hope they’ll still be around in a couple of months so we can go back and see how they’ve improved and to get some more of that cebiche!