Huevos Coreanos

 

If you ever felt inclined to make a list of “food trends” for the past couple of years, “adding kimchi to everything” and “Mexican-Asian fusion” would both certainly be near the top. It seems that everywhere you turn these days there’s a kimchi quesadilla, spicy pork burrito or bulgogi taco. David Chang and Roy Choi should be getting royalties for this stuff.  Paying too much attention to food trends is a often a dangerous thing to do, but  love them or hate them, there’s no doubt that a tasty dish is a tasty dish. Let’s not take ourselves (or our food) too seriously.

I love breakfast, but as a meal it’s often overlooked as a source of variety. Day in and day out we turn to toast, cereal, bacon, the occasional pancake, and then add some eggs – fried, poached or scrambled. Even the simple and delicious breakfast dish of Eggs Benedict has lately been co-opted by brunch, that most mystifying and indefinable of meals. But such is the lack of respect we in the West tend to afford our breakfast. It’s ironic really, considering just how versatile eggs can be.

It’s easy to see where we get disillusioned by breakfast. We are constrained by time, ingredients, appetite and nutritional value.  We need something that’s fast, nutritionally balanced, not too difficult on the stomach and which will carry us through to lunch (forget brunch). But in the face of this adversity, we form solutions. I think the constraints of breakfast can be a source of great creativity, as we are almost forced to think outside the box.

Taking the old Mexican favourite, Huevos Rancheros (Cowboy’s Eggs) and combining it with some very good kimchi and enoki mushrooms resulted in this dish, which will definitely be taking its place in my kitchen’s breakfast repertoire.

 

Huevos Coreanos – Korean Eggs (Cowboy Style)

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered (80g)
  • ½ cup enoki mushrooms (50g)
  • ½ cup kimchi (with juice), roughly sliced (100g)
  • ¼ cup tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ small red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 large red chilli
  • Grated cheese (optional)
  • Salt (to season)
  • Black pepper and buttered crusty bread, to serve

Method

Preheat your oven’s overhead grill. Heat a small cast iron or other ovenproof pan until very hot. Add the olive oil and sautee the onions, tomatoes, chilli, mushrooms and kimchi until all are softened and nearly cooked through. Add the tomato passata and vinegar and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Taste and season.

Make two small wells in the mixture in the pan and crack an egg into each. (If you wish, you can now scatter the top with a little grated cheese). Transfer the pan to your grill and grill the top for about 3-4 minutes until the whites of the eggs are set but the yolks are still runny. The heat of the pan will continue to cook the eggs from the bottom.

Grind over a little black pepper, scatter with some coriander leaves and serve with some buttered crusty bread.

Note: For a more mild version, you could reduce the amount of chilli or substitute with thinly sliced red capsicum.

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Little Decisions

I happened across this old tweet of mine today and realised that I had written it exactly two years ago to the day. When you find something like that, you can’t help but think what your life would be like if things had gone differently.

My life of two years ago wasn’t a bad one. I was a lawyer working for The Walt Disney Company in Tokyo. It was a good job, that I enjoyed, in the field I trained in, and in an interesting country. All in all, I had a really nice life. While I’d like to be able to tell you all that there was a “piece missing” or that I hated my old life, the fact of the matter is I was really very comfortable doing what I was doing and quite content. So much so that this tweet was actually about the second MasterChef audition I was invited to.

The first audition was in my home town of Adelaide and it was scheduled while I was supposed to be visiting Cuba. Having planned the holiday for months, I declined the audition and went on holiday instead. When I returned to Japan, I called the producers and asked them if there were any other auditions that I could go to and they invited me to come to Sydney. Again, I ummed and ahhed and tried to decided whether I would travel all the way from Tokyo for a long-shot chance at something I wasn’t even really sure if I wanted to do.

In the end, the only way I could look at it was to say “Why not?”

Why not go to the audition? Why not give it a shot? If I fail, my worst-case scenario would be that I continue on doing what I’m doing and I have an interesting story to tell. The best-case scenario, of course, would be that I get through the audition and I have another, more interesting decision to make.

As is no-doubt obvious, I ended up going to the audition, having a ball, and getting through to the next round. The rest is history. There were lots of other moments and other decisions (and actually, I pulled out of the show at least 2 more times over the following few months – but that’s a story for another time), but this was the first one. Every single thing in my life would now be different if I had made that one little decision differently. I wouldn’t have had the amazing experience I have had over the past two years, the new career I have now, and a future that I’m incredibly excited about.

It didn’t seem like an important decision at the time – it was tiny, insignificant and almost laughable – but it was the first one, and it turned into one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t think that all the important decisions in life present themselves with banners, fanfare and prancing horses. Sometimes it’s the little decisions that reach further and wider than you’d ever imagine.

I’m sure that right at this very moment there’s someone else, somewhere in Australia (or elsewhere in the world) that’s trying to decide whether or not they should audition for MasterChef or take a different kind of new step. Who knows, maybe in a few months they’ll be the one centre-stage when the gold glitter rains down.