An elegant take on the classic dish, with a focus on good quality ingredients.
4 free range eggs
3-4 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (see recipe)
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
110g (4oz) smoked salmon
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard
1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
225ml (8fl oz) oil - We use 175ml (6fl oz) sunflower oil and 50ml (2fl oz olive oil, alternatively use 7/1)
1kg (2lb 4oz) thinly sliced unpeeled cucumber
3 small onions thinly sliced
225g (8oz) sugar
1 tablespoon salt
225ml (8fl oz) cider vinegar
Flat parsley or chervil
- For the egg mayonnaise, hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water. (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked).
- When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways and sieve the yolks, mix the sieved yolk with mayonnaise, add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill into a piping bag and pipe into the whites. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or chervil.
For the mayonnaise:
Mayonnaise is what we call a 'mother sauce' in culinary jargon. In fact it is the 'mother' of all the cold emulsion sauces, so once you can make a mayonnaise you can make any of the daughter sauces by just adding some extra ingredients.
I know it is very tempting to reach for the jar of 'well-known brand' but most people don't seem to be aware that mayonnaise can be made even with a hand whisk, in under five minutes, and if you use a food processor the technique is still the same but it is made in just a couple of minutes.
The great secret is to have all your ingredients at room temperature and to drip the oil very slowly into the egg yolks at the beginning. The quality of your mayonnaise will depend totally on the quality of your egg yolks, oil and vinegar and it's perfectly possible to make a bland mayonnaise if you use poor quality ingredients.
- Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the salt, mustard and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues).
- Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time to create an emulsion. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken.
- When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don't get too complacent or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.
*If the mayonnaise curdles (splits) it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again. Alternatively, if you catch it just as it begins to curdle, you can sometimes rescue the situation by whisking in 1-2 tablespoons of hot water.
For the cucumber pickle:
- Combine the cucumber and onion sliced in a large bowl. Mix the sugar, salt and vinegar together and pour over cucumbers.
- Place in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator and leave for at least 4-5 hours or overnight before using.
- Keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator.
- Slice the smoked salmon into 3mm (1/8 inch) thick slices straight down onto the skin, arrange 3 or 4 pieces into a rosette on one side of the plate, place the stuffed egg beside it and then add some cucumber salad to the plate.
- Garnish with flat parsley or chervil and serve.