A sunny afternoon at Hogs Island Oyster Company in San Francisco’s Ferry Building introduced us to a version of this tasty salad. The next day, we were craving another serving, and the frisee in the garden was begging to be picked (plus it gave my fella a reason to teach me how to poach eggs). We were delighted with our first try, and since then we have tried a few other variations that I have noted. The key is fresh and crunchy for the foundation vegetable, lightly tossed greens that include a smack of herb or edge of bitter, and a freshly poached egg. I like using lemon instead of vinegar in my dressings and prefer the clean citric acidity with lettuces rather than the sweet-tart of balsamic.
Foundation Options: When asparagus was no longer in season, we used heirloom beans from the garden. We lightly blanched them, but they kept their crunch. The key is fresh, green, and crunchy.
Lettuce Options: When the frisee bolted, we swiched to mix lettuces with spinach for the bitterness. I also mixed baby lettuces on another try adding some fresh dill (it was growing nearby!).
Add-Ins: Other options to your liking could be crumbled bacon or extra-crispy pancetta. We served crusty bread on the side.
three cups of frisée, patted dry and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch trimmed asparagus (about six spears per serving)
two fresh eggs
juice of half large lemon
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbl chopped chives or dill
sea salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the Dressing and Lettuce: In a large bowl, crush the garlic and then whisk in lemon juice. Add mustard and whisk more. Add oil in stream, whisking to emulsify. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss the lettuce to coat and set aside.
Prepare the Foundation: Place the asparagus in the top half of the steamer pan set (or place a metal colandar atop an inch or so of simmering water). Steam for 5 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove asparagus to paper towels to remove moisture.
Poaching the Eggs: Make sure your eggs are really fresh. Add a small dash of vinegar to a pan of steadily simmering water, not a rolling boil. Crack eggs individually into a cup. Create a gentle whirlpool in the water to help the egg white wrap around the yolk. Slowly tip one egg into the water, white first. Leave to cook for 2 minutes for runny eggs, 3 minutes for a set white with a runny yolk, and 4 minutes for a more well-done egg with a yolk that’s still soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, cutting off any wispy edges using the edge of the spoon. Drain onto kitchen paper – nobody wants eggy poaching water wilting their salad.
Plate: Divide the asparagus onto two plates. Top with half of the greens on each. Make a small “nest” in the frisee and place one egg on each salad. Salt and pepper the egg to taste. Another great addition is a dusting of chives.