Known by many in the food press as the ‘Arpège egg,’ chaud-froid d’oeuf (hot-cold egg) was invented about 20 years ago at the triple-Michelin starred Arpège restaurant in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris by culinary superstar Alain Passard. The dish has become so identified with Arpège, that it now goes by the name of ‘Coquetier Maison de Cuisine‘ (pot of the house) on the restaurant’s menu.
As a piece of technical cooking, the dish has gained some notoriety among chefs as being a bit of a bastard to get right. But, equally, some have made the thing more difficult for themselves by trying to get a razor perfect egg cut or by trying to remove the membrane – Passard does neither.
There is a lovely version of hot-cold egg by Californian chef David Kinch who uses coriander honey and a coriander flower to finish over a lemon cream. This was featured on Netflix’s Mind of a Chef. On the same show, chef David Chang of Momofuku takes you through the same idea.
While all this ovum witchcraft seems all very clever, there is nothing new under the sun. The Arpège egg is really a spin on a classic oeuf en cocotte, which is a shirred egg dish named for the ramekin it is cooked in.
L’Arpège egg is served as a pre-starter amuse bouche. The idea is that the yolk is warm, the cream is cold, the chives are savoury and the syrup is sweet. This means you need to work fast to assemble the dish once the yolk is coddled. Service is immediate.
Arpège can be found at 84 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France. Call +33 1 47 05 09 06 for a reservation.
Chaud-froid d'oeuf Alain Passard
- 4 eggs
- Pinches of ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp chives, chopped (see notes)
- 150ml double cream
- Some sherry vinegar
- Pinches of ground nutmeg, ginger, white pepper and cloves
- Drizzles of maple syrup
Open the eggs with an egg topper, and tip out the whites, holding the yolks back with a spoon. Keep the eggs in an egg box while you work on them.
Season each yolk with a pinch of black pepper and sea salt, and three scoops of chives applied with a small melon baller.
Lower the eggs to float in simmering water (switch the heat off) and cook for 3 mins.
Meanwhile season the cream with a four pinches each of sea salt, pinches of nutmeg, ginger, white pepper and cloves. Add a few dashes of sherry vinegar to taste, and whip the cream to very soft peaks. Fill a piping bag with the mixture if you intend to pipe the cream.
Take the eggs from the water and carefully spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top to almost fill the egg shells. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately in egg cups. Many photos of this dish show a chopped chive garnish.
Alain Passard suggests that the chives can be swapped for chervil or tarragon.