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Episode 310: Cured and Smoked

Smoked Lettuce with Japanese Cured Eggs

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Smoked Lettuce with Japanese Cured Eggs

Recipe Notes

  • Active Prep: 10 minutes
  • Grill Time: Smoke for 3 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 and can be multiplied as desired
  • Method: Hay-smoking
  • Equipment: Can be grilled over charcoal or gas. You’ll also need a wire rack, cake pan, an aluminum foil pan filled with ice, a wire rack, and 2 quarts hay.

Ingredients

For the eggs:

  • 8 large eggs, preferably organic
  • 1 cup mirin
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 coins of unpeeled fresh ginger, smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
  • Shichimi togarashi (Japanese pepper rub), for serving (optional)

To finish the salad:

  • 2 small heads green leaf lettuce (like Baby Gem, Boston, or Bibb)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup egg marinating liquid (from above)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives or scallion greens
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Steps

1: Cure the eggs: Place them in a large saucepan with cool water to cover by a depth of 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and gently simmer the eggs for 11 minutes for hard-cooked yolks, or 7 to 8 minutes for softer, jammier yolks. (This is at sea level; increase the cooking time if you live at high altitude.) Pour off the hot water and fill the pot with cold water. When the eggs are cool enough to handle but still warm, carefully peel, then let cool to room temperature.

2: Combine the mirin, soy sauce, and sugar in a deep bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the ginger and the peeled eggs and marinate, refrigerated, for 10 to 12 hours, stirring occasionally so they marinate evenly.

3: Drain the eggs. Set 1/4 cup marinade aside for the dressing and discard the rest. Place the eggs on a wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan or baking pan in the refrigerator until the surface feels tacky, 1 hour. Then cut the eggs in half lengthwise or widthwise. Place on a wire rack over a pan of ice.

4: Meanwhile, prepare the salad: Break the lettuce into leaves and wash and spin dry in a salad spinner. Pile the lettuce in a wire grill basket or cake pan. Keep refrigerated until it’s time to smoke it. When ready to smoke, place the lettuce leaves on the wire rack over the ice with the eggs.

5: Finally, make the dressing: Place the reserved egg marinade, sesame oil, rice vinegar, lemon zest, sugar, and 1 tablespoon chives in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Correct the seasoning, adding salt and pepper and rice vinegar or sugar to taste.

6: Set up your grill for indirect grilling in the following manner: Heat one side to medium and leave one side flame-free.

7: Place the hay on the lit side of the grill. When it starts to smoke and catch fire (you may need to help it with a match), turn off the burner if using a gas grill, and place the eggs and lettuce atop their pan of ice on the opposite side of the grill away from the hay and heat. Cover the grill and smoke until the hay burns out, 3 to 5 minutes.

8: Return the lettuce to the refrigerator to chill. Serve it within 3 hours of smoking.

9: To serve, arrange the lettuce on a platter and garnish with the smoked eggs. Spoon the dressing on top. Sprinkle with the shichimi togarashi and the chives. Smoky but delicate. It’s a salad like you’ve never tasted.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2021 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein

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