Anchovy or Worcestershire sauce?
Originally the salad contained no anchovies, but it did contain Worcestershire sauce (which contains anchovy essence). Chefs all argue about this. Does it really matter? No, it is about personal taste. If you dislike anchovies, use a few drops of Worcestershire sauce instead. Beware of cheap anchovy-type fillets. Every chef has his own personal twist, I believe in having some pieces of the egg still visible in the dressing.
I use baby gem lettuce instead of cos lettuce, as it is more robust with lots of flavour. Cos lettuce tends to wilt very quickly. I keep the lettuce leaves whole so you can eat the salad by hand, picking the leaves up at the stem.
As for the egg, traditionally a coddled egg is only put in the water for a minute and some recipes use only the yolk. I cook it for longer so that I can use the whole egg in the dressing for more texture and flavour. I use a blend of canola and olive oil, as olive oil can be overpowering. The croutons can be deep-fried but I find this a little oily. There are variations with poached egg, whole anchovies, prawns, biltong, bacon or chicken. All that really matters is that you use good-quality fresh produce.
3-4 heads baby gem lettuce or cos lettuce Croutons:
4 slices white bread, crusts removed and cubed
15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
3-4 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, crushed (if you find raw garlic too strong, use roasted garlic)
Pinch of salt
10ml (2 tsp) Dijon mustard (optional)
40g parmesan cheese, grated
30ml (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
180ml mixed olive and canola oil (half-half blend)
Freshly ground black pepper
Wash the lettuce in cold water, dry and refrigerate until required. It is important that the lettuce is crispy.
For the croutons, arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and toast under the oven grill until golden brown. Rub the inside of a stainless-steel bowl with the garlic and place the croutons in the bowl while still warm. Cover with plastic wrap, toss and set aside until needed.
For the dressing, cook the eggs in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place in iced water. Peel when cool enough to handle.
In a large bowl, crush the anchovies with the back of a spoon until minced, add garlic and continue to mix. Add the mustard and half the parmesan, then the coddled eggs. Mix with a whisk or stick blender until well combined. Add lemon juice, then slowly add the oil mixture, whisking continuously to form an emulsion. If the dressing is too thick, add a little warm water to thin.
Toss the dressing through the lettuce with the croutons and the remaining parmesan (use top-quality cheese and add extra if desired). Grind over some black pepper and toss gently. Serve immediately.