The last time I had a spaghetti carbonara was at the Sheraton in Bangkok after a long day at work. The thought of a hearty bowl of piping hot spaghetti with eggs, bacon and cheese was rather comforting. As it arrived, I looked longingly at that beautiful bowl. It seemed to have the right colour. I could see the flakes of crispy bacon. I had the server crack some black pepper over it. It looked perfect. But as the first fork full reached my waiting mouth, I was suddenly reminded of every bad run in with the carbonara. While most had been either too runny, smelly or gloopy; this one was drippy and had the distinct taste of raw eggs.
Since then, the carbonara and I have been foes. And thats a sad thing for me because I love eggs; the runnier and eggier the better. I love bacon (who doesn’t). I love cheese. And only a few things are more satisfying to me than a bowl of warm spaghetti.
Now, having started this blog and having declared my love for food, it just didn’t feel right to have a food foe. So with some inspiration and a little thought for my belly I extended a hand of friendship. I made a spaghetti carbonara with shiitake and button mushrooms instead of bacon or pancetta and I substituted raw eggs with a poached egg to get that same creaminess but without the scare of tasting runny, raw eggs.
Poached Egg Spaghetti Carbonara with Shiitake and Button Mushrooms
6 large to medium button mushrooms
a small fist full of dried shiitake (soak them in a cup of boiling hot water for 15 mins. keep the resultant broth. we will use it to pump up the umami taste)
spaghetti, cooked as per the instructions on the packet
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
a few sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Chop the button mushrooms and the rehydrated shiitake into thin slices. saute them.
Step 2: In a hot pan, put some olive oil. Add the shiitake and saute it in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Then add the button mushrooms and continue to saute the 2 for another 5-8mins on medium-high heat. The idea is to let the mushroom lose their moisture and have a few crispy bits.
Step 3: Add half a cup of the shiitake broth into the mushroom mixture and let it reduce for about 2-3 minutes. This is a good time to add the thyme. I love mushrooms and thyme together.
Step 4: Add the grated parmesan cheese to the mix. It will almost immediately melt into the mushroom broth.
Step 5: Now add the spaghetti. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Toss well making sure the spaghetti is nicely coated and the mushrooms are evenly distributed.
Step 6: For the poached eggs, boil a large quantity of water with salt. As soon as the water comes to a boil reduce the heat and let the water simmer. Crack an egg into a oiled heatproof bowl. If you have the silicon egg poachers, nothing like it. Now carefully lower the blow into the simmering water. The idea is to let the bowl be submerged in the hot water. Don’t worry, the egg will be fine. Just make sure you don’t let the water boil or disturb the water too much otherwise the egg will come out of the bowl and spread in the water. Let the egg poach in the hot water for about 3 minutes. Now carefully pull out the bowl from the water and let the water drain out out of the bowl over a slotted spoon. Be gentle while handling the egg. As the water pours out of the bowl the poached egg will slip into the slotted spoon. Let it drain some more. Now do the same with the other egg.
Step 7: Make yourself 2 bowls of spaghetti. Place the poached egg over the bed of spaghetti. Sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top and serve.
Break the egg and let the yoke spill into the spaghetti. Mix it in and enjoy!