08 November 2010
Ingredients: 7 oz tin sardines; 5 hard-boiled eggs; 2 slightly rounded tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 scant tablespoon strained lemon juice; approximately 16 drops Worcestershire sauce; salt and pepper; 2 rounded tablespoons stiffly whipped cream.
Method: Rough chop eggs. Drain all oil away carefully from sardines and remove all tails and spine bones. Then choose between the two following methods:
(a) With Emulsifier: Blend prepared sardines, chopped eggs, lemon juice, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce in emulsifier until thick and creamy. Turn into bowl and add cream. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper.
(b) Sieve chopped eggs. Mash sardines with a fork. Blend together with mayonnaise, then lemon juice, then Worcestershire sauce and finally cream. Taste and correct seasoning.
Presentation and garnish
(a) Tchina Pierre. Cover a shallow serving dish with 12 small, carefully picked and washed heart of cabbage lettuce leaves. Fill Tchina into nylon (non-sweat) piping bag with crown metal pipe affixed. Pipe a rosette of the mixture into the centre of each lettuce leaf. Dust lightly overall with powdered paprika, very finely milled Brazil nuts or very finely scissored fresh chives. Eat from small plate with fork.
(b) Tchina Marguerite. Turn mixture into a wide, shallow glass bowl and with a small cake-icing spatula or knife smooth into a slightly rounded dome. Separate 3 eggs. Pour whites onto a large, lightly-oiled heat-resistant plate. Stand in a shallow meat baking tin on an upturned patty pan or similar support and pour in boiling water till a fraction below plate. Tent lightly with foil, set over sufficient heat for water to bubble gently and allow to steam until set (approximately 5 minutes). Stir yolks in a bowl and pour onto similarly treated cheese plate. Steam until set, remove and immediately stamp out 8 rounds from set white with a 1" fluted pastry cutter and from the set egg yolk stamp out 8 tiny rounds with a plain 1/4" writing pipe. Place yolk blobs on centres of white and, equally spaced, around outer edge of Tchina dome as border 'flowers'. With a plain 1 3/4" circular pastry cutter stamp out 5 egg white petals and arrange in the centre of the dome to form a flower. With the 1" fluted pastry cutter stamp a yellow yolk circle and place in the centre of this flower. From the yolk trimmings stamp out 8 little egg yolk crescents and place between each of the border flowers. Scatter chopped chives overall.
(c) Tchina Mimosa. Arrange mixture in glass dish exactly as described for Presentation (b). Hard-boil 4 eggs. Shell under thin stream of cold water from tap. When cold, place 2 of the hard-boiled eggs in a small bowl. With green vegetable colouring colour fairly strongly enough water to cover, pour on top and leave for 30 minutes. Remove and wipe the now-green egg white. Chop finely. Remove the egg white from the other two eggs and chop finely. Chop all the yolks finely. With the tip of a skewer mark off the surface of the domed Tchina mixture in the dish into six triangles with the point at centre. Then holding a knife blade as a protective wall against the first marked triangular line, scatter this triangle with half the chopped egg yolks. Repeat with second triangle of chopped egg white. Repeat with third triangle of chopped green egg white. Repeat all three once more to complete circle and place a 1/4" border (optional) all the way round the edge of very finely milled or chopped parsley with one tiny fresh parsley sprig top centre.
Eat the two latter versions like jam or caviare using small knife to spread with butter on toast on small plate.
Do not toughen egg whites by boiling fiercely. Bring water to boiling point. Immerse eggs singly on a spoon. When all are submerged, bring water back to gently simmering point and maintain for 8 minutes. Plunge immediately into cold water and remember to tap shell gently all round against side of sink before starting to shell. This eliminates any danger of tearing surface while shelling.
The experts tell us that wine and egg dishes do not go well together; so if you wish to be a fairly high-flown gastronomic expert, you will be correct in omitting any wine with the above dish. Conversely the average Frenchman will eat an omelette with a crust of bread and wash both down with copious draughts of well chilled vin rose. Therefore, on a less hairsplitting level and if serving Tchina as an hors d'oeuvre, you can start with this very humble wine and drink it throughout the meal thereafter, or follow it with more serious table wines to suit subsequent courses. Despite the incidence of fish in the Tchina mixture, we cannot advise that you serve any of the white wines suggested in the preceding programmes because of the inclusion of Worcestershire sauce plus mayonnaise made with wine vinegar.