Egg is referred to as an oval shaped cell produced by female species of various animals and birds. Few bird’s eggs such as turkey or chicken are suitable for daily human consumption while quail eggs are considered as a delicacy. Common fish eggs that are used in cooking are ‘roe’ and ‘caviar’. A single egg has three components: eggshell, egg yolk and egg white. Egg dishes are quiet popular as breakfast dishes as well as side dishes and main dishes. French toast, eggnog and omelets are some of the most popular egg recipes that are well-liked by followers of all cuisines.
History of Egg
Since prehistoric times, eggs are very important foodstuff. The birds were domesticated to produce egg in South East Asian countries and India around 7500 BCE. Chickens were brought to produce eggs in Egypt and Greece in time period of 800-1500 BCE. In Ancient Rome and France, eggs were commonly used in cooking as well as in some rituals.
Culinary Use of Egg
Egg has been a main component in cooking since middle ages. Egg is a very good binder that can be added to any food item such as mashed potato, minced meat or vegetables. Fried egg or scrambled egg, are some of the most popular egg recipes that are well-liked in international cuisines. Apart from egg dishes, egg is widely used in baked food items such as cakes, pastries, muffins and brownies. Egg allows the baked items to rise and provides softness also. Meringues and dessert mousse obtain a smooth and fluffy consistency due to egg. Fried snacks such as cutlets, fried chicken or finger foods are mainly cooked with egg and flour coating. It is not necessary to use whole egg to make egg dishes. Some egg recipes call for only egg yolk whereas some include only whites. Even in soups, beaten egg is added in the end to garnish the dish. Beaten egg when added to a hot soup dish gives a shredded look. It is true that various health concerns are associated with egg consumption but despite all this, egg remains a popular ingredient in cooking worldwide.
Popular Egg Recipes
Here are few popular egg recipes from all over the world:
• French toast – This is a popular French egg recipe made with beaten egg and bread. Mostly it is eaten in breakfast.
• Spanish omelets – It is clear by its name that it is a Spanish dish with egg as the main ingredient. Beaten egg is fried in a pan and served with toast and boiled vegetables.
• Eggnog – It is beverage mainly served at the time of Christmas. Eggnog is sweet milk or cream based drink in which eggs are included to make the drink frothy.
• Mayonnaise – This is one of the most popular egg recipes around the world. Burger, pizza, pasta and many other dishes are incomplete without this popular egg recipe.
Cuisines Commonly Making Egg Dishes
Egg is considered an important ingredient in almost all cuisines. Even in lacto-ovo-vegetarian meals egg is included. American cuisine makes delicious desserts using eggs. In Indian cuisine, egg is used as a binder or in various curry dishes such as egg curry. Fried Chicken or fish dishes are cooked with egg coating in Chinese as well as in Japanese cuisines. Pastries, muffins and mousse made with egg are popular in all global cuisines. Pavlova, an Australian dessert includes eggs and sugar and right amount of egg is the main secret behind the recipe.
Preferred Methods for Making Egg Dishes
Egg is to be eaten always in cooked form as cooking destroys the bacteria present in it. Here are some of the most popular methods of making egg dishes:
• Boiling – Eggs are boiled and used in various curry as well as dry dishes. Boiled egg with gram flour coating makes a very nice fried snack. Boiled eggs are often sliced and used as a garnish in meat ad rice dishes.
• Poaching – It is one of the most common methods of making breakfast egg dishes. Poaching should be done for at least 5 minutes in order to get a fully cooked egg.
• Frying – Fried eggs are also a very popular breakfast dish that can either be eaten alone or served with toast.
• Baking – Various desserts and sweet snacks are made with egg as the main ingredient.
• Beating – Several egg dishes call for beaten eggs such as eggnog, French toast and scrambled eggs. Egg should be beaten with full force to make it frothy and airy.
• Mixing – Egg white is often mixed with mashed potato or minced meat to bind the ingredients together.
Nutritive Value of Egg
An egg is designed by nature to provide proteins, vitamins and minerals. Cooking also doesn’t alter its nutritive value significantly. Eggs are the prime source of nourishment throughout the world. Egg and egg dishes provide excellent amount of vitamin B12. The egg yolk is rich in choline that is an essential component in building cell membranes and nervous tissues.
Buying and Storing Eggs
• Eggs with blemished shells and cracks should always be rejected.
• It is a myth that brown eggs are more nutritious. White eggs are equally nutritious so never misled by these labels.
• Eggs should be stored in the main part of the refrigerator rather than stored in the fridge door.
• It is recommended to keep eggs in a bowl in fridge so that air can circulate freely.
• Put a date stamp on the egg container to ensure the original purchase date.
• Always store eggs with pointed side down. This allows the egg yolk to remain in the centre away from the air packet that is present at the large side of the egg.
• Eggs can be stored in refrigerator for up to three weeks.
• Egg dishes can be stored in fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Types of Egg:
• Standard eggs – This is the most common variety of eggs that is sold commercially. It includes chicken or goose eggs.
• Organic eggs – These types of eggs are laid by the hens that are completely fed on organic diet.
• Vegetarian eggs – This variety of eggs are produced by the hens that consume only vegetarian diet.
• Omega-3 eggs – Flax seeds and canola seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids hence these are given to hens to produce omega-3eggs. Egg
Eggs and Spring Equinox Celebrations
The egg, considered as a symbol of new life, is an integral part of the Spring Equinox celebration. This is a solar festival celebrated on March 20 of every year when the day and night are of equal length. The celebration also marks the arrival of spring, which signifies fertility and prosperity. On this occasion, hard boiled eggs are colorfully painted depicting spring and fertility. Egg dishes, such as the deviled eggs, are prepared and shared with friends and family. Games such as egg hunts and egg rolling are played. There is also a belief that an egg can be balanced on one end on Spring Equinox due to special gravitational forces. However, this belief is proven to be unscientific since eggs can be balanced on any day of the year, if one had the patience and the right egg shape.
• French brides break eggs before entering to the new house for good luck.
• A hen takes 24-26 hours to produce a single egg.