Seasonal Pantry: The perfect French omelet
Sonoma County is egg rich. We have easy access to chicken eggs year round, but we have so much more, from quail eggs and pullet eggs to duck, turkey, goose and, if you know where to look, ostrich eggs, each one of which is roughly comparable to two dozen chicken eggs.
Our Asian markets also have salt eggs, typically duck eggs that are dyed purple so as not to confuse them with fresh eggs. Salt eggs have been cured in brine for up to three months and can be used in a variety of recipes, including a spicy salt egg sauce that is delicious on fish, braised mustard greens, steamed rice and sliced summer tomatoes.
You’ll find recipes for both salt eggs and the sauce on my blog, “Eat This Now” at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.
Pullet eggs — from young chickens who have just begun to lay — are the newest option unless you raise your own chickens, in which case you’re already familiar with them. They are small, with a greater ratio of yolk to white than eggs from a mature hen.
These eggs are deliciously rich and nutritious, as half the protein and most of the vitamins are found in the yolk. Pullet eggs began appearing at our farmers markets last year; currently, several vendors have them for $5 a dozen.
Duck eggs are increasingly popular and widely available. Salmon Creek Ranch of Bodega is a pioneer in the local industry.
You can find its eggs at several farmers markets as well as Whole Foods throughout the country and by mail order.
While still a 19-year-old student, Anthony Bordessa started a duck egg business on his family’s farm in Cotati.
While he is away at college, his family continues Washoe Valley Duck Farm, selling the eggs to markets that include Safeway and Grub Market, an on-line delivery service.
Duck eggs have qualities that many people value. They are alkaline while chicken eggs are acidic. They have, on average, 9 grams of protein; chicken eggs have 6. They have more Vitamin A, B-6, B-12, iron, calcium, magnesium, niacin and thiamine than chicken eggs.
They also give great loft to baked foods and add a luscious richness to custards and sauces, including mayonnaise and its cousins.
Duck eggs cost more than chicken eggs, but they are much larger. One jumbo duck egg can replace two to three hen’s eggs.
To a large degree, diet determines the taste and nutritional value of eggs. If you’ve been put off by duck eggs that taste a bit fishy, don’t worry.
That comes from the fish by-products that some ducks are fed, something that is no longer in fashion and is not used by local producers.
Now that the scare about cholesterol has been put to rest, eggs are increasingly acknowledged as one of the best available sources of protein. An egg contains all the amino acids essential to human health and has the added benefits of being delicious and versatile.
No matter what eggs you use, preparation is similar. You can make soft-cooked, hard-cooked, poached and fried eggs using any egg by adjusting heat and other ingredients to fit the egg’s size. Omelets, scrambled eggs, frittatas and sauces are cooked similarly, with considerations for size.