28 February 2010

Superbreakfast of the Future

By now everyone knows what quinoa is, right? The supergrain of the future? If you're not yet familiar with this Saturny-grain, hop on over to Wikipedia for the rundown. Go on, I'll wait.

OK, so by now you know it's pronounced KEEN-wah and it comes mostly from Peru and it's very nutritious. But what you might not know is that it's really easy to cook AND it's delicious! Usually it's served in place of rice or other grains as a side dish. In Peru it's often found in granola bars, and in Bolivia, it's made into a warm breakfast drink.

The other day Meg at Not Martha posted a link to a quinoa thread on Ask MetaFilter, and casually mentioned that plain quinoa topped with an over easy or poached egg is her favourite breakfast. I did a bunch of googling for breakfast quinoa recipes but found mostly sweet options. Then I remembered Mark Bittman talking eating savoury oatmeal with soy sauce and scallions, and I got to thinking. I do love my oatmeal, but it would be nice to have more protein with breakfast, and the ability to poach an egg just happens to be one of my superpowers. And unlike flying or x-ray vision, all it took was a little practice.

Quinoa with Soy Sauce and a Poached Egg
makes 1 serving

1/4 c quinoa, rinsed
1 egg
white vinegar
sea salt
soy sauce
freshly ground pepper

Put the quinoa in a small saucepan and add 1/2 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, still covered, for about 10 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat a shallow pot (about 2 inches) of water to boiling, then reduce heat so it's just bubbling a little, but barely. Stir in a splash of vinegar (1-2 tsp) and about a tsp of salt.

Crack the egg into a ramekin or other small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the simmering water to make a vortex, and gently tip the egg into the centre of the vortex.

If you timed everything just so, your quinoa should be just about done. If you can see a tiny ring around each grain but there's still a lot of liquid in the pot, remove the lid to let the water evaporate, then spoon the quinoa into a bowl. Add a few drops of soy sauce, just, you know, however much you like. When your egg is poached to perfection, remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and place it on top of the quinoa. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Shortcuts: You can pre-cook the quinoa whenever you have time. Store it in a closed container in the fridge, and at breakfast time either warm it in the microwave or steam it on the stove. If you're really pressed for time you can also use soft-to-medium boiled eggs, but I urge you to practice poaching eggs - it's an impressive skill, and one that can bring you much deliciousness.

More on eggs: I learned how to poach an egg following the instructions on Epicurious. As for boiling eggs, I like to put a few eggs in a pot, add enough water to cover the eggs, then bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Your eggs will be soft-boiled in 4-5 minutes, and hard-boiled in about 8 minutes. Rinse the eggs immediately in cold water to make them easier to peel.

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