Sake is a really good thing. I haven’t touched the stuff in four years because of one bottle that was so unpleasant I didn’t bother with it again until last night. For the past year or so, Mike and I have been feeling uneasy about our aversion to sake. We love Japanese food, and we were sure there had to be something good about an alcoholic beverage beloved by so many people around the world. It was silly to miss out on all the fun.
Mike was traveling for work last week and enjoyed some lovely sake at a sushi restaurant with co-workers. That was it. We decided it was time for us to get over our fear of sake. And it gave us an excuse to make maki rolls which, incidentally, we hadn’t done since we bought that last bottle of bad sake about four years ago. We wanted a dry sake meant to be served cold, which we picked up at Whole Foods Market for $11. It was great! It was far from flavorless, yet very neutral like vodka without any harsh sting--sake usually has an alcohol content around 15% like a strong wine.
Our maki rolls, made with smoked salmon and cooked shrimp--nothing fancy--were great too. Unfortunately, I sort of burned some of our sushi rice, so were left with a bit of extra seafood. Before we even finished the maki rolls, I was dreaming up what I would do with the leftovers for breakfast.
Even though runny, fried eggs are my gold standard, I immediately thought of creamy scrambled eggs with Asian seasonings, shrimp and cilantro. Since I can’t even remember the last time I made scrambled eggs, I checked Mastering the Art of French Cooking for advice. Since I’ve gotten that book, I’ve used it on several occasions to find the best technique for basic recipes--all the recipes I’ve referenced are so well detailed with methods that work so well, I honestly wonder why everyone doesn’t do it Julia’s way.
The eggs were exactly what I was hoping for--soft and creamy with the subtle saltiness of tamari soy sauce (naturally fermented, wheat-free soy sauce) and a bit of fish sauce balanced by the richness of sesame oil--mere drops are all you need here. We had leftover Brussels sprouts from last night too that I sautéed with seasoned rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and tamari (there's no limit to the tastiness of Brussels sprouts). Fantastic breakfast! And it was all thanks to sake. Too bad there was none leftover--we had to settle for coffee instead.
Asian Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp
From Julia Child’s master scrambled egg recipe, I learned you mustn’t add anymore than one teaspoon of liquid for every 2 eggs. She, of course, uses cream, but I substituted Asian flavors for this dish. When it comes to shrimp, I’m a little snobby about never buying pre-cooked shrimp--they’re so easy to cook yourself--but pre-cooked would do fine in this recipe. Tamari, a naturally fermented, wheat-free soy sauce has mild flavor that is more than just pure salt. It’s available in many supermarkets now, and I definitely recommend it in this recipe where you want delicate flavor. I made this for breakfast, but I would love to eat it for dinner too.
Serves 2 (doubles easily)
1 tsp. low-sodium tamari soy sauce (I like the San-J brand)
1/2 tsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. water
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tbs. butter
3/4 cup cooked, medium shrimp, cut into 2 or 3 pieces each (or use a combination of shrimp and smoked salmon)
1/4 cup (packed) chopped cilantro
salt to taste
1/4 tsp. dark sesame oil
Add the eggs, soy sauce, fish sauce, water and black pepper to a large bowl and whisk for about 30 seconds.
Coat a large nonstick or cast iron skillet with cooking spray. Add the butter and place over moderately low heat.
Add the egg mixture to the skillet and stir with a rubber spatula. It might take 2 minutes or so for the eggs to heat. When the eggs start to form large curds, stir rapidly, scraping the bottom of the skillet as you go. After about 1-2 minute or when the mixture has thickened a bit, add the shrimp and cilantro. Continue stirring until shrimp is heated through and eggs are no longer liquid, but still soft and creamy. Taste and add a pinch of salt if necessary. When the eggs have just reached the consistency you want, immediately transfer to a plate. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve immediately.