- STEP 1
Heat a tbsp vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Add the finely chopped onion and garlic and sweat over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the garlic begins to brown. Mix together the 2-3tsp brown sugar with the soy sauce, cumin and balsamic vinegar.
- STEP 2
Add 250g finely sliced mushrooms, soy sauce mixture and finely chopped 1-2 chilli(s). Fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
- STEP 3
After the mushrooms have been fried (there should be a fair amount of liquid in the pan) turn the heat to low and put something heavy on top of the mushrooms (I used a ceramic bowl) - this is the key to unlocking the flavour in the mushrooms. Stir often, cooking for 15-20 mins, making sure the mushrooms are underneath the weight.
- STEP 4
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, whilst the mushrooms gently fry. Dry spaghetti and similar dry pastas should take around 10 mins, however the timing will change depending on the pasta you choose, so look for instructions on the packaging. REMEMBER TO RESERVE THE PASTA WATER. The mushrooms are ready once they are bursting with flavour and have become very fragrant. Once the pasta is cooked and drained (reserving the pasta water) and still hot dress with olive oil and a knob of butter, tossing together with a fork.
- STEP 5
Preheat the oven to 200C(400F)(Conventional)/180C (356F) (Fan)/Gas 6 (Gas). Add a generous splash of cream and a ladelful of the reserved pasta water to the mushrooms once ready and simmer for 3-5 mins, stirring often. To cook the white sauce, add 35g butter, 35g flour, and 275ml milk. Set over a medium low heat in a saucepan, whisking constantly until just beginning to thicken. Lower the heat and continue whisking for around a minute or so until it is lovely and thick. Add a splash of cream, and continue whisking for around 30s until it thickens again. If it becomes lumpy, take it off the heat and whisk vigurously until you see no more lumps. If you like, add 70-80g cheese and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg whilst it is still hot, but taken off the heat.
- STEP 6
Mix the pasta with the mushroom sauce, and then put in an ovenproof dish. Top with the white sauce, and sprinkle with enough cheese to cover the white sauce and pasta.
Place in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until the cheese has browned and is bubbling. If not done already, you may want to poach the eggs now, then dress with olive oil and sumac, as well as salt and pepper.
- STEP 7
Once the cheese is bubbling, remove from the oven, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve with roughly chopped basil and/or parsley, extra olive oil, and the poached egg, as well as more black pepper if you like. The poached egg should ooze out and serve as a rich, creamy sauce. Enjoy!
- STEP 8
Tip: To poach an egg, I neither add vinegar or swirl the water. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Carefully crack the eggs on a flat surface into a bowl - not craking it straight into the water means that if the yolk breaks, a new egg can be used (if this does happen, dont throw the egg away - there are many recipes in which you need to whisk the eggs and break the yolk!). When the water is boiling, put the eggs in, and bring the water to the boil. Cook over a medium heat, checking every 30s-1 min to see if the white is cooked and if the yolk is runny. Once this is the case, drain it on kitchen paper or a tea towel. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you want to poach multiple eggs at once, carefully crack the eggs into a bowl. Put heatproof ramekins inside the pan of boiling water. Carefully put the eggs in to the submerged ramekins, by dropping them in the area of that ramekin. Follow the previous steps from this point on. I find this method risky, however, as it it possible that the eggs do not end up in the ramekins, or float out.
Note: The times given may not be entirely correct. The recipe, from start to finish, should take around 1-1 1/2 hours.