egg white omelet with smoked salmon and dill

All right, I want to talk about two things this morning. First (and most importantly), I should confess that I make the best omelets ever. Second, I want to discuss how the term egg whites conjures a world of dieting misery circa 1987, whereby we (and I mean the general “we,” since I was in elementary school back then) banished every kind of fat from our kitchens in favor of high fructose corn syrup.

“Cholesterol” was the buzz word, right? We were all very, very concerned about it — almost as concerned as we were about Gorbachev’s birthmark, the ketchup stain on our brand new Members Only jacket, and Michael Jackson’s incredible shrinking nose. And in response to the peaking cholesterol crisis, chain restaurants from IHOP to Denny’s began offering the option of yolk-free omelets to distract from the fact that their portions could feed a family of six. Back then, it didn’t matter how much you ate or how many chemicals it took to make it look edible. It was low fat, low cholesterol, and had enough sugar to make a grown man cry.

So no, I’m not a big fan of dietspeak of any stripe, whether it’s from 1987 or 2007. I don’t like how it always seems to help a company somewhere sell things. That said, the amount of sugar floating around in the blogosphere is overwhelming. I am so, so done with exquisitely photographed puffs of frosting. Come on, guys! A paramecium could make white flour, butter, and sugar taste amazing! Let’s get back to the real cooking, shall we?

Clearly I have devoted far too much thought to this (and have had way too much coffee — I always start ranting after the second cup), but seriously: I want real food, not dessert, but I also don’t want to have to inflict health on myself like some kind of punishment. There has got to be a middle ground, right? So I decided this morning to reclaim egg whites for the path of moderation, just as I reclaimed dessert for dinner a few months ago. Just as I like the challenge of combining sweet and savory, harmony has a lot to do with achieving balance.

Egg White Omelet with Smoked Salmon and Dill

-3 egg whites
-a few slices of smoked salmon
-1/2 shallot, finely diced
-1 tbs chopped fresh dill
-freshly ground black or white pepper
-a tiny pinch of salt
-a little olive oil or butter (for the pan)
-a dollop of sour cream or quark (optional)

The key is putting your (nonstick, medium-to-large) pan on the lowest heat possible. Really: put it on what you think is low heat, and then turn it down even more. The secret of a good omelet is cooking the eggs as slowly as possible so that they cook properly without overcooking. And turn on your heat right after the chopping is done, so the pan has a little time to warm up without getting too hot.

Beat the egg whites and add the chopped dill, mixing well. Stir in your tiny pinch of salt (the salmon will provide the rest) and a bit of ground pepper. You can grease the pan with a little bit of oil, but what I like to do over heat this low is to take a stick of butter, unwrap one end, and lightly swirl it around the pan. That way I end up with the scantest coat of oil, but an even coating (from the solids) and the wonderful flavor of butter in whatever I’m cooking.

Have your salmon and shallots at the ready, because this happens fast. Pour the eggs into the pan (they should sizzle slightly), and tilt it a bit to create an even circle of egg. Immediately sprinkle your shallots over the surface, wait ten seconds, and then place the salmon in the middle of the egg. The surface should be mostly cooked through at this point, and it’s barely been a minute. Now, very carefully fold the sides of the omelet over each other to make a burrito-shaped thing, wait ten more seconds, and slide it off on to a plate. Fold the top and bottom of the burrito/crepe until you have a little envelope of goodness. Top with a little quark (soft cheese, a lot like sour cream but more tart) and a sprig of dill. Photograph it and put the picture online, atop a rant about 1980s dieting trends. Feel a little guilty for being such a complainy-pants, and then realize it’s probably just because you haven’t eaten the omelet yet.


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