egg + lemon
It is not a secret that the traditional Greek cuisine is not an elaborate one; it lacks the sophisticated techniques of the French and it is basically made of the poor farmer's produce of the islands and the mainland.
There is one technique though, that is uniquely Mediterranean and Greek cooks are very proud of: the egg lemon sauce. And it as simple as that: egg and lemon and nothing else.
It is called 'avgolemono' in Greek and it is used in a variety of dishes. Chicken soup, meatball soup, stuffed cabbage rolls, selinato...It acts as a thickening agent, gives a tangy flavour and a creamy texture. In Arabic, it is called 'tarbiya', meaning 'healing' and it is so true, since the egg lemon chicken soup is pretty much good for anything: a cold, stomach ache, hangover...lovesickness...
For years though, and due to the lack of cooking books, this simple sauce was an intimidating process for the moms in the kitchen. The fact that the egg lemon sauce curdles and gets lumpy if added directly into the hot pot, has led to the creation of many myths. So, if you happen to be around my mom when preparing it, you will hear her whistle 3 times!!! Another famous secret is the kiss and it goes like that: you send multiple kisses to your dish as you mix it with the egg lemon sauce!! I know...
Back to reality, there is only one thing that prevents your egg lemon sauce from getting all lumpy and that is to temper it before you add it to the hot dish.
- 2 egg yokes
- Juice of 1 or 2 lemons (depending how lemony you like it)
Crack the eggs into a bowl and start adding the lemon juice gradually. Whisk to combine. Add a little of the warm stock or soup in the mixture to warm up the eggs, so you do not end up with an omelette. Pour slowly the egg lemon mixture into the pot and start stirring before your dish reaches boiling point. Remove the pot from the stove and serve.
I encourage you to finish your usual chicken soup with 'avgolemono' sauce. If I were you, though, I would still send a couple of kisses to the mixture, just to be on the safe side. You never know!