Companions for Sage
A friend handed me a huge pile of homegrown sage this week. Knowing that it goes well with pork, I made use of a great deal of it in some tasty meatballs and then pondered what to do with the rest. As is often when I get a bit stuck with ingredients I refer to my fabulous Flavour Thesaurus. Sage fried in butter over eggs and yoghurt – a Turkish inspired dish was the recommendation that caught my eye. I’ve tried something like this for brunch in a London restaurant before – thought it was sadly ruined by drowning layer of butter. Perfect excuse to have a go at doing it better myself!
Not content with serving the egg & yoghurt combo on its own I recalled an idea a fellow foodie had mentioned article about turning Shiitake mushrooms into bacon, and thought that would be perfect to serve on top. Don’t get me wrong – I love bacon as much as the next person, and think there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating well sourced bacon – but sometimes you don’t have access to well sourced bacon, or sometimes you’re not into meat but still want that smoky umami flavour. In walks Shiitake mushrooms baked in tamari and smoked paprika. The mushrooms unbelievably do a fantastic job masquerading as bacon. Years ago I thought Shiitake (pronounced shit-ah-kee, not shit-ache) was a really funny word. I’ve grown up now, honestly I have.
As is always my preference when adapting any recipe for this blog, I like to make a few nutritional upgrades to the original;
-Firstly I replaced butter with my homemade ghee. I have no issues with butter, but ghee is a bit superior since there are no milk solids, which is useful to know if you have lactose issues. It also tolerates being cooked at higher temperatures than butter, since there are no milk solids left to burn.
-Secondly I used kefir instead of yoghurt. Again I have no issues with the odd bit of yoghurt, but kefir which is a fermented yoghurt contains heaps of extra pro-biotic goodness, plus since its fermented the lactose is already broken down for you. How helpful! On this occasion I bought a shop-bought organic/grass fed kefir. I hope one day to make my own.
-And lastly of course the addition of Shiitake mushrooms. For the small amount of calories they pack, they are a nutritional powerhouse. A great source of vitamins and minerals, and amongst a myriad of star qualities which I don’t have room to list here they are known to enhance immunity and have cancer prevention qualities. A worthwhile veg to add into your diet.
- 4 large Shiitake mushrooms (or the equivalent volume of smaller ones)
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- ½ tsp tamari
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 200g kefir (or full fat natural/greek yoghurt)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced with salt
- 2 Tbs ghee
- Large handful of sage leaves (approx 20)
- 2 eggs
- Pinch chilli flakes
- Black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 175°C / 350°F
- Slice the mushrooms into thick slices, and toss with olive oil, tamari, salt and smoked paprika. Lay on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked to your preferred level of crisp.
- Meanwhile mix the yoghurt with the minced garlic, and leave to infuse. Put the water for poaching the eggs on.
- In a pan warm the ghee and when sizzling add the sage leaves, and fry till crispy, make sure you watch them as they can turn in a second (it happened to me and I had to start again). Remove the sage leaves with a slotted spoon and dry on a paper towel. Reserve the ghee for later.
- When you're ready to plate up you can now cook the eggs since this last bit happens so quickly and you need to be ready. Spread half of the yoghurt on each serving plate making a small well for the egg. Put the eggs on to poach, and when done drain on a paper towel. Place an egg in each well, sprinkle over the crispy sage leaves, a pinch of chilli flakes, a twist of black pepper and drizzle the reserved ghee over each plate. Top with the Shiitake bacon.