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Originally published | Page modified April 13, 2009 at 10:51 AM

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Taste

Eggs used in new ways are appearing on some of Seattle's top menus

Whether soft-boiled inside a lamb-pattie cocoon or lavished on top of tagliatelle, eggs are appearing in all kinds of interesting ways on some of the Seattle area's top menus.

See how it's done

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LATELY, Seattle chefs have been lavishing their love on the "incredible, edible" egg. We're not talking Denny's Grand Slam breakfasts here, but softly cooked eggs whose molten centers ooze over a savory dish to form a creamy, golden sauce.

At Andaluca, the long-running restaurant in downtown Seattle's Mayflower Park Hotel, executive chef Wayne Johnson serves a lusty Lamb Burger Meatball miraculously centered by a soft-boiled egg.

"I'm an egg freak. Even when I was a kid I loved eggs," Johnson says. "This dish was inspired by the Lamb Burger that is on our lunchtime menu. I love them to death, but wanted to make it different. So I immediately thought of wrapping the Lamb Burger around an egg."

Johnson creates the dish by mixing lean ground lamb with minced garlic, shallots and fresh herbs. He shapes a golfball-sized knob of meat into a 6-inch circle, then pats the circle about one-quarter-inch thick.

Next, his well-oiled fingertips wrap the lamb shell around a soft-boiled egg that's been shocked (plunged into iced water to keep the yolk from overcooking) and shelled. He urges the meat over the egg, wrapping and pinching until the meat forms a tight seal. Now the meatballs take a swim in 350-degree canola oil for 1 ½ minutes until they are lightly browned and crispy on the outside.

While the meatballs cook, Johnson swipes kalamata-olive aïoli on a glossy red plate. With silvery tongs, he plucks the meatballs out of the deep fryer and allows them to drain briefly. Then he gently cuts one of the globes in two and places the halves astride the aïoli. A sprinkle of feta and Hawaiian black lava salt, then a frizzle of fried red onions (for added texture) complete the dish.

The Lamb Burger Meatball has become part of the pinxtos, or small-plates menu, that Johnson introduced last fall.

Last December, at Spring Hill Restaurant & Bar in West Seattle, chef/owner Mark Fuller featured two eggy dishes on his menu. The Duck Egg Raviolo — a single, oversized pasta pouch — was stuffed with a duck egg yolk over a layer of ricotta, simmered until soft, then served with green sauce, duck "ham" and garlic chips. A poached egg, shrimp gravy and sautéed chanterelles embellished Wood-Fired Prawns with Creamy Grits.

"Eggs are naturally delicious by themselves. The rich and fatty yolk is what's the best, and they are great with just about everything savory," Fuller says. "A cook can use an egg to go over the top on a dish, the same way some cooks are compelled to add bacon to a dish. For the shrimp and grits at Spring Hill, we omitted the bacon and chose to go with a soft-poached chicken's egg.

"Come this spring, when morels and spot prawns are around at the same time, we will put the dish back on the menu . . . but we are going to smoke the morels to add the smoky flavor bacon imparts."

In January, Spur Gastropub in Belltown featured the amazing Tagliatelle with Oyster Mushrooms and Parmesan. The toothsome pasta was draped by a duck egg cooked sous-vide (slowly simmered in a plastic pouch to preserve its eggy essence). The parmesan was both shaved and foamed.

At Purple Café & Wine Bar in downtown Seattle you'll find caramelized shallots, grilled radicchio, goat cheese and fresh herbs topping the Provençale Pizza. The chef cracks a raw egg in the center of the pizza just before placing it in a 700-degree oven, and cooks it just until it reaches "sunny-side-up" stage.

In his monthly e-newsletter, Pat McCarthy, owner of DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine in the Pike Place Market, sent out a recipe for Fried Egg BLT Salad, which he describes as "an amalgamation of a couple of recipes: the BLT with a fried egg and the BLT as a salad." Here's a link to the recipe: www.delaurenti.com/recipes/2008/08/

But Thierry Rautureau, chef/owner of Rover's in Madison Valley, may be the grandfather of Seattle egg dishes, thanks to his long-running signature appetizer: Scrambled Eggs with Lime Crème Fraîche and White Sturgeon Caviar. Of course, it's served in an eggshell nestled within an elegant eggcup.

The Pike Place Market Creamery is a good source for eggs of all types — fresh quail, chicken, duck and (seasonally) goose eggs.

To prepare a softly cooked egg dish at home, lightly coat fresh asparagus spears with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with chopped fresh tarragon and lemon zest, then roast in a 400-degree oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Divide the asparagus among appetizer plates and then top each serving with a softly poached chicken egg and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

As you cut into the egg, its yolk will fuse with the lemon and tarragon and form a creamy sauce, the perfect way to usher in Easter, Passover and the fresh foods of spring.

Braiden Rex-Johnson is the author of "Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining." Visit her online at www.NorthwestWiningandDining.com. Mike Siegel is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

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