Take a virtual trip around the globe with the Incredible Egg, as we share international egg fare you can find in the windy city of Chicago. Happy World Egg Day!
Hot Woks Cool Sushi: 30 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 (additional locations around Chicago)
When you think of sushi, the first thing that comes to mind is raw fish. But alongside spicy tuna and shrimp tempura is an egg dish you don’t want to miss! Tamago is a Japanese sweet omelet that is often used in sushi. It is can be served by itself as nigari on top of rice, as sashimi without rice, or inside of a sushi roll.
Chef Ron Rungroi of Hot Woks Cool Sushi said that traditionally you make tamago by mixing eggs with sugar and mirin. You then gradually cook it on a sheet and cut it into square shapes when it’s ready to serve. Tamago has a light, sweet taste and a spongy texture. Due to these characteristics, Rungroi thinks tamago is a great option for people who are new to sushi. “Most people that order tamago, in my opinion, mostly they’re entry level or kids because it’s kind of sweet,” Rungroi said.
Rungroi has his own trick to elevate tamago: “My personal favorite way to have tamago is torched because it can help give better flavor and taste.”
Want to get your sushi fix before lunch or dinner? Hot Woks Cool Sushi offers Breakfast Sushi, including bacon and tamago, sausage and tamago, and salmon and tamago nigiri. No matter the time of day, the Japanese tamago dish is sure to satisfy.
Ethiopian Diamond: 6120 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60660
Dish: Doro Wat
When you step into Ethiopian Diamond, you’re instantly welcomed by the warm smell of spices and traditional Ethiopian art hung on the walls. While there are numerous Ethiopian dishes to choose from, doro wat is the menu item that features a uniquely cooked egg.
Doro wat, or “chicken stew,” is the glue that brings the different elements of the dish together.
“Preparation takes long,” Ethiopian Diamond owner Almaz Yigizaw said. “You need onions, chili powder, garlic, ginger. It takes a lot of butter and spices, and you also have to make it very carefully to have the right taste. You sauté the onion until it’s golden brown, and then you add the chili powder.” This process takes over two hours. After that, you add the chicken, which takes approximately an hour or two to cook. Then you add the highlight of the dish– the egg. First, hard boil the egg, then peel and use a fork or knife to poke it before adding to the doro wat. “The cooking doro wat has a lot of flavor, and when you add that egg, really the egg takes the sauce flavor from the cooking doro,” said Yigizaw.
According to Yigizaw, doro wat is the most authentic Ethiopian dish. “Doro wat is for the family during a holiday. However, if you have special guests coming to your home on regular days, you also make doro wat. It’s just a tradition. There are special spices that you flavor at the end of the doro wat, that’s why it’s hard to make it. Even if I gave you the recipe, the flavor would be different.”
You can make doro wat at home, but for a truly authentic taste, visit Ethiopian Diamond.
Sapori Trattoria: 2701 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614
Dish: Bucatini Carbonara
With its wooden tables, small chandeliers and exposed brick walls, your mind may trick you into thinking you’re in a trattoria in an Italian village. Head chef, Anthony Barbanente, was raised in a small town in the south of Italy where he lived on his grandpa’s farm not far from his uncle’s restaurant. This is where he first learned to cook the traditional Italian food, including the Bucatini Carbonara that he now serves at his Chicago restaurant Sapori Trattoria.
Created in Rome, carbonara sauce is typically made with guanciale (the cheek of a pig), pecorino cheese, pasta water, pepper and egg yolk. “It’s amazing, but it’s been done before for hundreds of years,” Barbanente said. “So, what would make it fun for me, living in Chicago, in the Midwest?”
Barbanente makes his own version, based off the original recipe. He swaps out guanciale for one of his favorite foods, Applewood smoked bacon, as well as pancetta. He also uses Parmigiano Reggiano cheese instead of pecorino and adds onion, cream, parsley and thyme for flavor. Barbanente notes these changes make the dish more accustomed to Americans’ pallets. “It makes a beautiful, flavorful dish that our guests are going crazy for. It’s probably our second bests seller on the menu,” Barbanente said. “I love it so much that I find myself making a little extra and saving it for my break.”
According to Barbanente, it’s important to add the egg yolk at the end when preparing carbonara because otherwise the egg will be overcooked. “Waiting toward the end and finishing it is what gives [carbonara] its velvety texture that is so important in bringing everything together,” Barbanente said. “The egg yolk will help hold the cheese in there with the pancetta and stick to the pasta, and thus it creates the unit.”
Beyond its importance to the dish’s sauce, eggs also play a significant role in other Italian pasta recipes, as well as many other Italian dishes, such as cake. “The world would not be the same, if there were not the egg. The egg yolk is a beautiful velvety fat, and when cooked properly, it creates a creaminess to a dish, it adds a richness and it adds a wealth of flavor as well as a little bit of color. I’m a big fan of eggs, as you can see,” Barbanente said.
Margeaux Brasserie: 11 E Walton St, Chicago, IL 60611
Dish: Croque Madame
It’s never too early to take a mini getaway, and what better place to visit than a romantic French brasserie? There are many ways to get your eggs in France, from omelets to the quiche, but nothing is quite as iconic as the croque madame.
A croque madame is simply a ham and cheese sandwich topped with an egg and a creamy sauce, called Mornay. Take the egg off, and it becomes a croque monsieur. “The croque madame and its brother the croque monsieur have been a French staple for a long time,” said Brent Balika, executive chef of Margeaux Brasserie.
Margeaux Brasserie is a classic Fresh restaurant that recently opened its doors in River North over the summer. Balika said that while a lot of what the restaurant does stays true to traditional brasserie cuisine, Margeaux Brasserie innovates dishes by using local ingredients, seasonal driven menu items and modern cooking techniques.
In regards to the croque madame, Balika adds a few new layers of surprise to upgrade the classic dish. Served as an open-face sandwich, he uses brioche bread topped with bacon marmalade followed by Paris ham, sautéed spinach, a sunny-side up egg, Mornay sauce and chives. “It’s really a modern, cleaner version of the original dish,” Balika said.
While there are a lot of new elements to Margeaux Brasserie’s croque madame, one that remains the same is the simple sunny-side up egg. “You get that really creamy runny yolk, which when we talk about rich and decadent and having classic brioche and Mornay, the creamy yolk makes that really rich and hearty breakfast,” Balika said.
If you want to eat as the French do, try a light breakfast, such as coffee and a baguette, before stopping by Margeaux Brasserie for the croque madame.