It was my first visit to a Waitrose in almost five years, Waitrose being Britain’s most upmarket supermarket. Don’t let the word supermarket deceive you though, Waitrose sells premium foodstuffs which is what helps the shop to seem so wonderfully fresh. On this particular trip the isle that attracted me the most was the egg isle. Walk into any supermarket here in New Zealand and you will never see a range of eggs quite like what I encountered at Waitrose. This inspired me to try out each of the eggs available to see the differences in flavour, texture etc.
I decided the fairest way to compare the eggs was to simply fry each of them. Each egg would be cooked in simple canola oil with a touch of salt. The only eggception to the rule would be the ostrich egg which clearly cannot be fried! It averages around 1.5kgs in weight, hence the need to scramble it!
I started with the turkey egg because of my recent fascination with this variety. Around Christmas of 2010 I heard some humorous stories and did some research on why we don’t eat turkey eggs. Turkeys for a start aren’t great breeders so in general the meat is definitely worth a lot more than the egg, secondly turkeys are inquisitive but at the same time a bit dim. The myth goes that if it rains and they are not in shelter they look up and drown. Further research proved this myth was probably incorrect but the idea behind it seemed vaguely plausible.
The outside of a turkey egg is white with little black spots, similar to a quail egg but larger in size, it is in fact one and a half times the size of a normal hen’s egg. Apparently, according to the box you can also get pink ones. They cost £1.99 for two eggs. They are excellent in sponge cakes and baking as they give a light and fluffy finish. Down to the frying, they have a paler yolk, and on tasting the yolk it is much creamier and has a slightly milder flavour. The white was softer than a regular egg.
Frying action pictured below!
I want to clear something up, free range eggs are not just about the health and well-being of animals however this to me is the most important issue and goes with the chef theory of happy animals equals happy animal products, in this case eggs! They also taste generally better. I would never buy battery eggs. If you take a look at www.safe.org.nz/Campaigns/ this will explain everything.
Next up is my favourite egg to look at. It’s great for presentation due to its unique size, it is of course the smallest egg, the quail egg. They are very delicate and to give you an idea it would take about 5-7 quail eggs to equal one regular size 6 egg. When frying it has to be done very slowly so as to cook all the white thoroughly before the base burns. They taste pretty much the same as the regular free range chicken eggs, however gently fried and placed on a scallop for example and they look and taste fantastic. On the negative side they have a higher cholesterol level than regular chicken eggs so they are best used as a garnish rather than as a meal themselves.
The next one is an interesting one for me – duck eggs. Some people love them and some people hate them. I would say straight off the bat I noticed that the shells were incredibly stronger. This (upon further research) is simply because the shells are thicker. Once the shell was finally broken and the egg was frying, it was clear to see the yolk was a lot larger than a chicken egg. It taste slightly richer than a chicken egg and it is definitely better for baking due to the richness of the yolk and the extra protein in the white.
The final egg to fry was a first for me, it was a goose egg. The first thing I noticed was they were £6.99 for one egg! It was about double the size of a size 6 chicken egg but certainly more than double the price. So as with the duck egg the shell was incredible strong and I reckon if I dropped it on the floor it would only just about crack and not shatter (although I didn’t test this, remember the price!). So it was cooked and I must say the yolk was very thick unlike a chicken egg, it was strange as it was like a nicely fried chicken egg that had been left sitting on the bench for 30 minutes and got that gloopy skin on top. The flavour was quite mild, it wasn’t a bad egg but it wasn’t a good one either!
It was time to unleash the beast - the ostrich egg! Let me explain a few things, firstly as a chef I obviously know what regular scrambled eggs taste like so that’s what my comparison is. Secondly don’t bother trying to crack them open like a normal egg or even like I have seen, don’t attack them with a knife. You can imagine what I said about a duck and goose egg being stronger well these eggs are even stronger, here is what I suggest. Get a sewing needle, the thicker the better. Insert (make sure it’s clean) the needle as far as it will go from the bottom to the top without coming out of the other end. Let it drain out, the needle should of broken the yolk so that it drains out also and then you can mix it. You can then use the shell for presentation by removing the top, or get it treated and keep it whole for decoration. An ostrich egg is about a dozen regular eggs give or take a couple. I have heard it takes about 45 minutes to boil an ostrich egg.
Scrambled ostrich egg is finished and to be honest I am a little disappointed, they taste EXACTLY the same as a regular egg! I am a big egg fan so this was disappointing, only because I was expecting something spectacular and it just wasn’t there.
So the egg quest was over and although there were fewer surprises and variation of flavours than I thought it was definitely a learning curve I enjoyed. The only negative was we lost our photos in a computer error that also took a lot of my holiday snaps and the only ones of the egg photos to survive were the turkey eggs!
Please feel free to leave comments about your own eggy experiences, this article was written with inspiration from the guys at iLoveeggs and the egg guy who you can find on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/nzeggs . Also please check me out and like my Facebook page also at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chef-Kevin-Blakeman/121434907938257