Omelets are the reason I roll out of bed in the morning. They make sacrificing thirteen minutes of precious extra sleep in order to swing by the dining hall on the way to the dreaded 9am class entirely worth it. They’re good. Especially topped with a little mushroom and cheese. Really good.
And, to my delight, Modernist Cuisine at Home agrees because it dedicates an entire section to the these bundles of golden goodness. I opted to make one of the most iconic modernist omelets called the “Striped Mushroom Omelet.” Ce n’est pas une omelette. No, this wasn’t just any omelet. It’s salty in all the right places, and alternates stripes of savory, dark mushroom puree with silky lines of the familiar egg to create a museum-worthy piece.
Maybe it’s like this for you too, but, at least for me, when I try to look up something on Wikipedia, I end up going on a wild goose chase of blue link clicking before I actually get where I wanted to go. Well this recipe was a lot like that. I started on page 40, which told me to “see page 63,” which redirected me to “see page 15,” which sent me to “see page 37,” which suggested that I “see page 35.” A few paper cut casualties later, I was ready to make the clarified butter for the Mushroom Jus for the Mushroom Puree for the Striped Mushroom Omelet (finally!). And to be honest, a lot of these steps seemed unnecessary, so below I offer my streamlined approach: sub in tap water for the Mushroom Jus which takes an hour to make and requires clarified butter and white miso (which required a trip to a speciality Asian grocery store). This substitution will also help control the saltiness, which I found to be a little too much when using the Mushroom Jus.
Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soy beans used to flavor and thicken sauces, soups, and spreads. It’s not worth searching the world for Miso only to use in this omelet (my streamlined version bypasses it), but I fell in love with the other uses for Miso during the process, which are definitely worth exploring (quick Tofu Mushroom Soup anyone?).
Anyways, back to the task at hand. Things finally got crackin’.
There was a lot of chopping (four varieties of mushrooms)…
and gill extracting…
to eventually finish the striped mushroom part of the omelet.
The egg part of the omelet was smooth sailing. The cookbook suggests using one less egg white than yolk (I used three whole eggs plus an extra yolk) to create a higher solute concentration in the mixture, which creates a smoother, silkier texture and prevents the omelet shell from falling apart (an awesome trick even if you decide not to try the mushroom stripe fuss).
Don’t own a $20,000 industrial-grade combi oven like elBulli? Well, that makes two of us. But you can jerry rig something pretty close for our purposes. I preheated the lid of an oven proof pan at 350 degrees F, then loaded my omelet into the pan, topped it with the heated lid to create a more even temperature inside the pan, and popped the whole thing back in the oven. The contraption mimics the pressureless steam and convection heat of a traditional combination oven. Better yet, the omelet cooks at a slower rate, allowing a greater margin of error (one of the fundamental ideas of modernist cooking). So, if you get distracted by a package delivery at the front door and accidentally leave the omelet in the oven for an extra five minutes (who would do such a thing?), it’s still golden to perfection.
The Takeaway: The Striped Mushroom Omelet won’t be showing up on my next lazy Saturday breakfast in bed menu. But on the sunny side (pun intended), I learned how to cook eggs better, which if you’re as fond of them as I am, is invaluable. So here you go, and happy crackin’…
Mushroom Puree (from Modernist Cuisine at Home)
Saute sliced shiitake mushroom caps (4 1/3 cup) in unsalted butter (3 Tbsp) for around 10 minutes, until they turn golden brown.
Add minced shallots (2) and portobello mushroom gills (from 1 large). Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, until the shallots are tender.
Stir in *water (3/4 cup), and simmer on medium heat for 1 minute. Puree the mixture in a blender until it turns smooth and passes through a sieve. Makes 7/8 cup.
*The water substitues for the Mushroom Jus.
Striped Mushroom Omelet (slightly adapted from Modernist Cuisine at Home)
Whisk together eggs (3), heavy cream (1 Tbsp), egg yolk (1), and salt (1/2 tsp).
Create the mushroom base by whisking together Mushroom Puree (3/8 cup), egg yolks (3), heavy cream (2 tsp), Albumin powder (5 tsp), and salt (1/2 tsp). Spread 2mm thick layer of the mixture on a round silicone mat (or wax paper) and draw even lines across the mat (the end of a plastic chopstick does the trick if you don’t have a pastry comb). Put the mat in an oven-safe, nonstick pan with a lid.
Gently pour the egg mixture over the lines on the silicone mat in the pan, and place the pan in the oven set to 350 degrees F. Cook for approximately 6 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool before peeling the omelet shell off of the silicone mat.
Fill the omelet shell with your favorite sautéed vegetables or cheeses. Makes 3-4 omelet shells. To save time, omit the mushroom puree, to make a stripe-less omelet.