Smoked salmon makes a delicious and unusual benedict. Image source: Flickr CC user Katherine Lim
If you live in a major city or even a small town, then you know that Sunday brunch has started to transform from an occasional meal after church to what seems like a weekly holiday. Restaurants all have signs on the streets advertising their brunch specials in the same way that retailers advertise their Black Friday specials. The best brunch spots are nearly impossible to get reservations to or don’t accept them, and winging it without a reservation will doom you to long lines.
There is a simple solution to this problem, and that is to host your own brunch. If you don’t have any good brunch spots nearby, this is also the best way to celebrate this soon-to-be-weekly national holiday with the rest of us.
Ask anyone who works at your local brunch spot and they will tell you the most popular item on the menu is almost always the eggs benedict, and if there is a seafood benedict, it’s a sure fire win for the restaurant (assuming they use fresh seafood). For this reason, I am going to tell you about three of my favorite seafood benedict recipes that your guests will absolutely love!
The Perfect Poach
The first thing to get down is how to perfectly poach the egg. There are 2 key components to doing this. The first is to add a teaspoon of vinegar to your water, which helps keep the egg from separating. Why, you ask? I don’t know, it just does. The second part would be to make a slight whirlpool in your pot once you’re ready to drop in the egg, and slide the egg in from a bowl, rather than cracking it straight into the pot. If you are still having trouble with poaching, or if you accidentally invited way too many people over for your brunch party and have to poach a lot of eggs, there are a variety of different poaching tools out there. I personally like the Tovolo Perfect Poach bags, which can be found on Amazon and in some kitchen supply stores.
Now that we know how to make the eggs, we can talk about some of the best and most unusual eggs benedict variations you have ever tried. Did your mother ever tell you not to play with your food? Well, mine encouraged it and that’s why we are going to be adventurous and play with a few different options.
Smoked Salmon and Polenta Benedict
I like this recipe because it’s actually quite simple to make. You can make polenta yourself and pour it onto a sheet pan, then let it cool and slice it, but too many people already showed up for brunch, so make your life easy and buy the pre-made tube of it. Slice the tube into 1-inch thick rounds and brush them with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until golden brown. Those polenta discs will take the place of the usual english muffin. Now all that is left is to slice up a quality smoked salmon to place on top of the polenta, and top with a poached egg and some lemon dill “hollandaise.” Crabmeat is also great in this dish. Try making a simple crabcake and substituting that for the smoked salmon. Crab pairs well with my faux hollandaise, too. This “hollandaise” is dead simple, and although it’s not much like a typical hollandaise, it is delicious and healthy. Just mix greek yogurt (I advise against a fat free version) with lemon juice, dill, and salt to taste. That’s it!
Cajun Shrimp Benedict
The best part about this dish is the sauce. Again, it’s not quite a hollandaise (and by not quite, I mean not at all), but it is a healthier spin on it.
Honey Chipotle Lime Sauce
Since everyone has different preferences about spiciness and tartness, I suggest starting with a 2 cups of yogurt for about 8 guests, and adding chiles, lime juice, and honey until you get the taste you prefer:
In keeping with the slightly southern feel of this dish, I would use a southern-style buttermilk biscuit as the building block for this creation. First top the biscuit with your perfectly poached egg and then pile on some fresh shrimp sautéed with paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. For the best flavor use a white shrimp that was sustainably raised or caught, making sure to peel and devein them. Then, don’t forget to top it off with your delicious honey chipotle lime sauce.
Fish Benedict with Tomato-Herb Hollandaise
This recipe will be a real treat for your taste buds, and because it is baked and not fried, it’s reasonably healthy as well. Start by cooking your fish, and make the hollandaise while it is baking. I like to use cod for this recipe because its slightly sweet flavor complements the salty, savory taste of the parmesan, and the fillets are thick enough that it stays moist during baking. Ideally, try to buy Pacific cod that’s been responsibly wild-caught, so it has a low impact on the environment and wild populations. A good seafood company like Daily Fresh Fish will always make sure your cod is a quality sustainable seafood (as well as being ultra-fresh).
You will want to combine the following for your cod crust:
First cut your cod fillets (you’ll want about 1 fillet per person) into pieces of about the right size for an english muffin. Halves or thirds is usually about right, depending on the size of your fillets. Next you will want to salt and pepper your cod pieces and dip them into an egg wash (you can use the egg whites left over from your hollandaise--recipe below--combined with 1 whole egg) before coating them in your bread crumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet with a wire rack and drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillet.
Tomato Herb Hollandaise
While your fish is baking, it would be a great time to start your hollandaise. Unlike the last two sauces, this is a variation of a true hollandaise so it is important to make it near the time your guests come so that it doesn’t separate. To get started you will need the following:
Actually making a hollandaise can be a bit tricky so I will break this down into steps for you.
By now, your cod should be just about finished baking. Remove it from the oven, place one piece of cod on each english muffin half and top with your nicely poached egg and tomato herb hollandaise. If you want an impressive, tasty garnish, grab a handful of fresh basil leaves, a large pinch of fresh tarragon leaves, and a little fresh thyme, and mince them together. Sprinkle this over each benedict. You are going to go crazy for this recipe, trust me!
Hosting a party of any sort is not easy. It can be stressful managing the timing for each component of a dish. These simple recipes, coupled with the ease of fresh fish delivery from a company like DailyFreshFish.com will save you time and aggravation. Daily Fresh Fish can send any amount of seafood you need right to your door, either straight from the fisherman or expertly flash frozen. We also offer free shipping within California and Nevada as well as discounted shipping for first time customers outside of those states.