When a recipe calls for egg whites, don’t discard the excess, sunshine-orange yolks: they are a magical ingredient that can transform a drab dish into something divine and spectacular.
At its simplest, a whole yolk can be used as a dressing, to top a salad or plate of pasta and served at the table for you to break and stir in yourself.
Many French classics contain an egg yolk, such as hollandaise, whisked over a bain-marie with a touch of lemon juice, tarragon-flavoured béarnaise, classic mayonnaise, sweet buttercream or an irresistible vanilla creme brulee: all are made possible through the incredible emulsification properties of the mighty egg yolk.
If you find yourself with several yolks spare, an easy way to preserve them is to pack them in fine salt for a week, then wash with a dab of vinegar and hang in muslin or cheesecloth to air-dry.
They’ll keep for months, and can be grated on to all sorts as an alternative to bottarga or parmesan. Cured egg yolks are a great addition to carbonara, too, grated on top when the pasta has cooled slightly, so it doesn’t scramble.
A rich, decadent plateful made with just a few ingredients. Since becoming vegetarian, I make carbonara with strips of tempeh, which works just as well as guanciale, pancetta or bacon; fried chunky breadcrumbs or jackfruit are also good.
However, it is the egg yolk and pecorino that are the real stars of this dish.
100g spaghetti per person
15g tempeh or bacon per person, cut into strips
Grated aged pecorino or parmesan – I use a vegetarian one
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk per person
Cured egg yolk, to serve (optional)
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until just cooked, but still firm to the bite.
In another pan, gently fry the tempeh or bacon strips until golden brown. When the pasta is cooked, drain and leave to cool for a minute, then stir in the strips and a grating of cheese.
Season, plate and serve topped with a raw egg yolk to be stirred in at the table. For extra richness, grate a little confit egg yolk on top as well, if you like.