Although both anchovies and broccoli tend to have a bad rap, I have come to enjoy both of these ingredients equally, especially in this salad.
A couple of notes before getting started: Cooking broccoli properly goes a long way toward making it delicious. A matter of seconds can turn perfectly soft-yet-crunchy pieces into the mushy mess most people associate with this vegetable. Using a timer and an ice bath will ensure success.
Boquerones, or white anchovies as they are also known, are excellent eaten whole because they have a much milder taste than the salty, tinned variety, since they're cured with vinegar rather than salt. Traditional anchovies are the standard go-to for Caesar salad, but if you're looking for a mellower flavour, try boquerones instead.
Frying always seems like a production, but when it comes to the garlic chips in this recipe, the effort is worth it. Take your time bringing the oil and garlic up to temperature, and then make sure to keep stirring. Your taste buds will thank you for all the roasted garlic crispiness and flavoured oil you'll have at the end.
Finally, a hat tip to chef JC Poirier, whose fantastic anchovies and eggs dish at Ask For Luigi in Vancouver was what originally inspired me to create this salad, further exploring and celebrating anchovies (and salmon eggs) in all their salty, oily and fishy delight.
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2 heads broccoli, rinsed under cold running water
4 free-range, organic eggs
1 medium-sized head of garlic, cloves peeled
1-1/2 cups canola oil
Fine sea salt
12 boquerones (white anchovy fillets in oil and vinegar), drained and patted dry
1 small jar wild Canadian salmon caviar, about 50 g
1 lemon, quartered, seeds removed
Fleur de sel
Freshly cracked black pepper
Cut the broccoli into medium-sized florets, splitting larger florets in half so that each piece is around the same size. This will help them cook more evenly. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a rolling boil. Add the florets and cook for 2 minutes. Strain and immediately transfer the cooked florets to the ice bath. Allow to cool completely. Strain well and store in the fridge until ready to use. Can be prepared a day in advance.
Perfectly soft-boiled eggs
Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high and carefully spoon each egg into the hot water using a slotted spoon. Cook for exactly 6 minutes at a gentle boil before carefully straining the water into the sink. Run cold tap water over the eggs in the pot for 5 minutes. Starting at the widest end, lightly smash each egg all over with the back of a spoon before peeling. Rinse the peeled eggs in cold water to remove any stray shell pieces and allow to continue to cool in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made a day in advance.
Garlic chips and oil
Set a coarse metal strainer over a stable medium-sized, heat-proof bowl. Prepare a paper towel-lined baking sheet and have the salt at the ready.
Thinly slice each clove into 1-mm thick slices. Using a mandolin will result in more uniform slices that fry up more evenly.
In a small pot, heat the canola oil and garlic slices over medium heat. As the oil comes up to temperature, the garlic will begin to sizzle and fry. Stir frequently with a metal spoon to avoid slices sticking together. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes while stirring and watching very carefully, until the garlic begins to turn a light golden brown. Immediately, but carefully, strain the hot oil through the strainer to avoid overcooking the chips. Turn the crispy garlic out from the strainer onto the prepared tray and sprinkle evenly with salt. Using your hands and working quickly, gently toss the chips with the salt, subsequently separating them and spreading them across the paper towel before allowing them to cool.
Transfer the oil to a glass jar and allow to cool completely. Chips are best made the day they are to be consumed, however, the oil will keep up to four months if stored in the refrigerator (although I doubt it will last that long once you realize how versatile and delicious it is).
Place the broccoli, boquerones and salmon roe in a large bowl with 8 large spoonfuls of garlic oil. Squeeze three quartered pieces of lemon into the bowl as well as a good pinch of fleur de sel and some freshly cracked black pepper. Toss everything together well and adjust for seasoning by adding more garlic oil, lemon, salt or pepper as necessary.
Divide the broccoli and anchovies evenly across four small serving bowls. Spoon the salmon roe and any remaining dressing in the bottom of the mixing bowl over each of the dishes. Cut the soft-boiled eggs in half and place two halves in each bowl. Garnish each egg yolk with a small pinch of fleur de sel and some freshly cracked pepper. Garnish each bowl with garlic chips. Serve immediately.