French Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Chives

Sunday April 14, 2013

My dear friend Norma Golobic, who knew every excellent place to eat in the city, told me about a great little bistro in San Francisco off Union Street. It was called Balboa Cafe. One trip there and I was hooked; they had the best hamburgers ever. On subsequent trips I tried many of their homey dishes, one being the double-boiler-cooked scrambled eggs with a layer of smoked salmon on top. It is a divine way to eat smoked salmon and makes the eggs even more substantial a meal. Scrambled eggs are often the perfect light dinner with little crusty French rolls or a fresh sliced thin baguette, a tossed green salad or a side of pan-sautéed filet of sole, especially on late nights after eating a special restaurant lunch. Keep a little pot of fresh chives outside in your kitchen herb garden just for pinching off a little bit for making this dish. Do not substitute dried herbs here; you must have the fresh to infuse the sublime. The double boiler technique assures you of the creamiest eggs. There is a secret–don’t rush. Oh, by the way, the Balboa Cafe at that time was run by chef Jeremiah Tower, known for his gastronomic expertise, before he opened Stars.


Cooking Method: Stovetop

Cook Time: About 15 minutes

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 large or extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • 4- to 8-ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon


Bring water to a boil in a double boiler and melt the tablespoon of butter in the top pan. Adjust the heat to keep the water at a simmer.

In a small bowl, place the eggs, milk or half and half, salt, and pepper and beat with a fork just to combine the yolks and whites. Add the 3 tablespoons of cold butter bits.

Pour into the top of the hot double boiler pan and stir constantly using a heat-proof rubber spatula or whisk. Slowly push the eggs gently as they set up, gently folding and stirring from the bottom of the pan to to form delicate soft curds. The eggs will cook more slowly than if you make them in a skillet, so allow about 10 to 15 minutes total, until creamy, set, and still moist (they keep cooking on the way to the table). Be patient. As the curds are beginning to form, sprinkle in the chives.

Remove from the heat 1 minute before eggs are done cooking since they will continue to cook off the heat. Transfer the eggs to 4 warmed plates, top with the slices of smoked salmon (as much as you like!) and run to the table. Have the basket of fresh bread, and salt and the pepper grinder on the table to further season.

Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2008, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2013

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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