18 June 2011
Cook's brain. It's that ability to visualize the food on the plate, as a picture in the mind, and then work backward. There's no reason why domestic cooks can't do the same thing. Cooking is easy: you've just got to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Too many professional chefs never think about what they are doing.
For instance, let's just think for a moment about a fried egg. It's not the most inspired dish, but then again, if you can't cook an egg, what can you cook? And actually, a perfectly cooked fried egg can be quite beautiful.
Apply the cook's brain and visualize that fried egg on the plate. Do you want it to be burned around the edges? Do you want to see craters on the egg white? Should the yolk look as though you need a hammer to break into it? The answer to all three questions should be no. Yet the majority of people still crack an egg and drop it into searingly hot oil or fat and continue to cook it on high heat. You need to insert earplugs to reduce the horrific volume of the sizzle. And the result, once served up in a pool of oil, is an inedible destruction of that great ingredient -- the egg. Maybe that's how you like it, in which case carry on serving your disgusting food.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can think about what we really want to see on the plate. We want the egg to look beautiful and appetizing, because then when we eat it it, we shall be happy. We want the white to be crater-free and unblackened around its edges. The yolk should be glistening, just a thin film that can be pierced by a fork to let the yellowness run out. That's the picture.
How do we create it? Slowly heat a heavy-based pan on very low heat, perhaps five minutes, and once it is hot enough, put in some butter, letting it gently melt. Then take your egss from a basket and crack it into the pan. (I don't keep eggs in the fridge as it only lengthens the cooking process because you are dealing with a chilled ingredient.) If the heat seems too high, then remove the pan from the heat for a few seconds to let it cool down. Basically, if you can hear that egg cooking, then the heat is too high. Carefully spoon the butter over the top of the egg. After about five minutes you have your magnificent fried egg -- more of an egg poached in butter -- just the way you pictured it on the plate.
- Marco Pierre White
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