What came first, the chicken or the egg? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the chicken unless you
subscribe to the theory of Spontaneous Generation where a rock shaped like a chicken
eventually turned into a chicken. I’m pretty sure the original form of chickens looked more like
the egg with a central core like the yolk (or cell nucleus) surrounded by the albumin or egg
white (like protoplasm) which eventually contained enough dividing cells to form a
rudimentary animal. Okay, enough of this scientific gobble-di-gook. Though nature’s original
intention was the primary makins’ of another chicken, the uses for the egg goes well beyond
just another cock-a-doodle-doo!

Egg Nutrition

For starters, for you fitness buffs who regularly consume this protein supplement or that protein
supplement, you need not look further than the humble egg. The egg white is primarily protein
(actually mostly water but the solids are almost pure protein) and very high quality protein to
boot. Depending on which reference is used, the Biological Value or BV of egg is anywhere from
94 to 100 which is pretty much the standard by which other proteins are compared. And me
thinks an egg white omelet is a lot tastier than any protein shake. The egg yolk contains about a
third of the total protein found in the egg along with the B-vitamins folic acid, riboflavin,
pyridoxine, cyanocobalamin, choline and biotin as well as Vitamin A, iron, potassium, calcium
and phosphorus. The yolk also contains fat – roughly 3 to 5 grams per egg though only a
quarter of this amount is saturated fat. It also contains that nasty compound, CHOLESTEROL.
The stuff that arterial plaques are made from! Stop this column immediately! Can’t be discussing
a food that’s bad for us right?! Well, it’s not that simple. While cholesterol does contribute to
atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, it’s also a necessary compound that produces our sex
hormones (without those hormones, we’d all just be asexual mushrooms) along with the
insulation (myelin) of all of our nerve cells. And while dietary cholesterol can raise serum
cholesterol, the biggest dietary culprit in raising serum cholesterol is dietary saturated fat. Plus
it’s not like the egg yolk is pure cholesterol, it’s only about 200-300mg of cholesterol. In
reality, the cholesterol circulating in our blood is only about 20% dependent on dietary sources.
Our livers account for about 80% of what’s in our blood. That’s why I’m in the camp that
believes you can consume more than the 2 to 3 egg limitation per week that’s usually
recommended by the USDA. I feel you’d be better off eliminating those traditional breakfast
meats and dairy products which contain their fair share of saturated fat and more likely to raise
your serum cholesterol.

Egg Applications

Since I was mentioning breakfast, let’s start there. With your standard breakfast including eggs.
Poached, sunny side, over easy, scrambled, boiled or mixed with other players and baked as in
the Italian frittata or the Spanish Tortilla. I personally like my yolks runny. Doesn’t that
increase the risk for salmonella? Technically yes, though it’s been estimated that salmonella
infects only 1 in 10,000 or so eggs. And it seems that the risk may be a little higher on the
eastern side… and Hawaii is as far west as the US goes (ok, maybe parts of Alaska are further
west).  And if you do ingest salmonella, it’s usually self limiting and isn’t a problem unless you’
re in the elderly, infantile or immunocompromised population (ok, I know I’m approaching
elderly). Plus that’s what antibiotics are for and that is the day job for me. So I personally am
willing to take the salmonella/runny egg yolk chance.

The penchant for runny egg yolks started many moons ago. Initially it was watching Dad
carefully apply a couple of drops of Tabasco on each sunny side yolk and save the yolk for the
last bite. Eventually it was watching Mr. Abe consume his daily breakfast. I walked to school
with Michael every morning during our Kapunahala Elementary days and would wait for him
seated at their dining table (I think he purposely took a long time getting ready just so his Mom
would drive us to school). While waiting, his Ojiichan – Mr. Abe – would have a traditional
Japanese breakfast. It often included a single egg – not fried, boiled or poached. In fact it was
served still in its shell. When Mrs. Abe brought out a bowl of steaming rice, Mr. Abe would
crack the egg over the steaming rice then quickly mix it along with shoyu and tsukemono and
consume it with the broiled fish, miso soup and other Japanese delicacies. I’m not sure if he had
an egg every morning though it seemed that way. Or maybe I was so entranced by his tamago
meshi that the memory kept repeating in my brain.

Since those hanabata (childhood) days, I’ve always been a fan of the runny egg yolk. Whether it
was watching Mr. Abe mix it with steaming gohan, watching Dad save that last bite of the
whole sunny side yolk or simply seeing that yellow orb of goodness mixed in the perfect Caesar
salad dressing or steak tartare, in the words of Tony Bourdain “I’m a total egg slut”. However I
also do have my favorite egg yolk applications that involve more than the cursory amount of
heat, sometimes scrambled sometimes boiled.

Very early in childhood, my favorite meal was eggs scrambled with French cut green beans and
quartered Vienna sausage. I still remember Mom trying to dissuade me after asking me to choose
my birthday meal. “Vienna sausage, beans and eggs”. No, it’s your birthday choose something
else. “Ok, eggs, beans and Vienna sausage”. Though I rarely partake in that childhood staple
anymore, I do occasionally have scrambled eggs. With butter and green onions. Simple? Yes.
Healthy? Not really since margarine won’t do, only real butter and more than just a pat. But it’s
something about the marriage of eggs, real butter and fresh green onions that make 1 plus 1 plus
1 equals 15.

I previously shunned boiled eggs – even during those childhood Easters – feeling it was a waste
of a perfectly good yolk. I enjoyed coloring them but never really enjoyed consuming them…
that is until Chef Keith Endo of Vino added his Sicilian-Style Eggs to the menu. Boiled eggs in a
ragu of red peppers and pepperoncini with pancetta and capers. Served on toasted bread to sop up
the juices, it’s a perfect marriage of sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy and savory in one dish. In usual
Gochiso Gourmet fashion, I’ve created my own take on Chef Keith’s Sicilian-Style Eggs:

Sicilian Eggs

12 eggs boiled to medium to hard boiled state
3 large red bell peppers, julienne
1 Poblano pepper, julienne
½ bottle of pepperoncini, julienne
5 medium cloves fresh garlic, sliced
2 tbsp drained and rinsed capers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp oil from sun dried tomato bottle
2 tbsp liquid from pepperoncini
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tomato or sun-dried tomato paste
1 heaping tbsp honey
Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley (optional)

Sauté the sliced garlic in the 3 tbsp of oil until beginning to brown then add the peppers. Cook
until the fresh peppers begin to soften then add the capers. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes then
add the pepperoncini and liquid, balsamic vinegar, tomato oil and paste and honey then sprinkle
with the black pepper. Cook until the liquid almost evaporates then take off of the heat.

Toast sliced baguettes – grilling is even better – until it develops a crisp texture. Place halved
boiled eggs on the bread then spoon the pepper mixture over. Garnish with chopped parsley and
The Incredible Edible Egg