Simple meals to start the weekend - fried eggs with spicy tamarind sauce, and smoked salmon with poached eggs.
Fried eggs with spicy tamarind dressing
You can up the ante and use duck eggs rather than hen's eggs in this dish, which are rich and delicious. I also like fried eggs with XO sauce or oyster sauce.
For the fried eggs
free-range or organic eggs 2 large
vegetable oil for deep-frying
shallots 2, thinly sliced
combined mint, coriander and Thai basil leaves (available from Asian stores or Waitrose) 1 small handful
For the dressing
fresh red chilli 1 long, halved, seeded and chopped
wild green chillies (from Asian stores) 3,chopped
garlic clove 1, chopped
coriander stems 2, chopped
caster sugar 1½ tbsp
fish sauce 1½ tbsp
lime juice 1½ tbsp
tamarind water(tamarind available from Asian stores or online) 1½ tbsp
To make the dressing, pound the chillies, garlic, coriander stems and sugar in a mortar with a pestle to a fine paste. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind water, then taste to check for balance.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or deep-fryer until just starting to smoke, about 180C.
Carefully crack the eggs into a bowl and then gently pour the whole eggs into the hot oil. Use a large spoon to ladle some of the hot oil over the top of the eggs until they are golden brown all over. Remove the fried eggs from the oil, drain on paper towel and transfer to a serving plate.
Allow the oil to cool a little, then fry one of the sliced shallots until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Mix the herbs and both the fresh and fried shallots in a bowl and moisten with some of the dressing. Sprinkle the herb salad over the fried eggs, then drizzle with the remaining dressing to serve.
Smoked salmon with poached eggs
When poaching, more than any other type of cooking with eggs, fresh is best. Other smoked fish such as hot smoked trout or sturgeon are great with this little brunch.
smoked salmon 12 slices
eggs, free-range or organic 4
sourdough or Turkish bread toasted
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the simmer. Don't have your saucepan filled too deeply with water, no deeper than about 4cm. Don't have the water boiling too fiercely or your eggs will blow apart, just barely simmering is perfect. Don't try to cook too many eggs at one time. As you become more proficient, you can be bolder and fill the pan.
One by one, break the eggs into a cup and slide them into the water (gently tip the cup near the water's surface).
Gently spoon water from the pan over the eggs as they cook. This helps to cook the tops so you don't have to turn them over. Carefully remove the eggs with a slotted spoon when set to your liking. Drain on paper towel.
In the meantime, toast the bread. Place 3 slices of smoked salmon on each plate. Make sure there is a little space for the egg to fit in the middle, so build a little nest. Place a poached egg on each pile, drizzle with olive oil, squeeze lemon juice over the salmon and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Note: break each egg into a cup - it is easier to slide into the water than breaking directly into a pan.
Extracted from Easy Weekends by Neil Perry (Murdoch Books, £20). To order for £14, with free UK p&p, click here
Fried eggs with spicy tamarind dressing. Photograph: Earl Carter/Easy Weekend