How long does it take a person to make a new friend in a new place? Six years and 180 days? I left Beijing after six years and 179 days, so that might explain why I made zero friends and hardly ever had brunch there. Because brunch is not entirely about the food, is it? More than perhaps any other meal of the day, it’s about the company. One may desire quietness and efficiency for breakfast and lunch, sometimes even dinner, but I’ve never heard people argue for a solitary brunch—a solemn moment alone with a mimosa, contemplating the elegance of social isolation.
So why did I make zero friends in all my six-plus years in Beijing? I have no idea. No, wait, I lied; I know exactly why. If I’d made more of this miso and browned butter hollandaise sauce, poured over jammy egg yolks and zapped with pickled shallots and capers, while (most important) keeping my mouth shut the whole time, maybe I would have made some friends.
Excerpted with permission by William Morrow Cookbooks from The Art of Escapism Cooking by Mandy Lee, 2019. —Mandy @ Lady and pups
To make the hollandaise: I highly recommend using an immersion blender for this recipe rather than a regular blender. With small quantities like this, a regular blender tends to splatter the ingredients all over the lid and nothing ends up properly blended. Heat the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until hot, then pour it into a tall, slender cup (one usually comes with an immersion blender) along with the egg yolks, miso, sugar, and pepper. Use the immersion blender to blend for 1 full minute, until the mixture is smooth, velvety, and foamy. Add the lemon juice and blend again until evenly mixed. Set aside.
In a small nonstick saucepan (so the burned butter bits end up in the hollandaise and not stuck to the pot), cook the butter over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, swirling the pot frequently. You’ll notice that the sizzling sound subsides and the butter starts to foam and smell nutty. Working quickly so the butter doesn’t burn, with one hand submerge the immersion blender into the yolk mixture and keep it on. With the other hand, slowly pour the hot butter into the container. Constantly move the blender around as you pour in the butter to form a smooth emulsion. When all the butter is in and blended, the sauce should be thick and shiny. Scrape in any browned bits left in the pot and blend again until smooth. Keep the hollandaise warm in a bowl placed over a pot of hot water until needed.
To make the quick-pickled shallots shallots: Shave the shallots using a truffle shaver or sharp Y-peeler and place them in a bowl. Add the chile pickling juice and marinate for up to 10 minutes—no longer—then drain.
For each serving, toast a slice of rustic country bread with olive oil until crispy on the edges. Top with a poached egg, douse generously with miso–browned butter hollandaise, and scatter with the shallots, pepper, and capers. Make it pretty with nice herbs like dill or fennel fronds.