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Recipe for In ovis hapalis
(Poached eggs
with pine nut sauce)

In ovis hapalis
Photo from Pass the Garum gestolen.

By Apicius, vii, xvii, 329

AFAIK, this recipe comes from Giacosa and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

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A Taste of Ancient Rome

Time brings wisdom: every Apician recipe that begins with 'piper, ligusticum' makes me automatically reach for the mortar. Even if not explicitly stated, for anyone familiar with the recipes from De re coquinaria it is obvious that one should first grind the dry ingredients in a mortar, after which they are to be diluted with the liquids to make a sauce. Moreover, from other recipes than this one, it becomes evident that pine-kernels were seldom used in a decorative manner, as nowadays, but instead as a binding agent.

About 2 oz. of pine-kernels, some freshly ground pepper, a teaspoon of lovage-seed are ground together in the mortar. One or two tablespoons of honey, a few teaspoons of white wine vinegar and then mix well. Add just a few drops of garum and stir well until it all turns into a sauce with the thickness of our mayonaise.

*Note from : I remember well the first time I tried my hand to this recipe. It was while I studied Greek and Latin; we were a group of students responsible for editing a periodical, we knew our Latin, but we quite ignorant of culinary matters. The eggs, of course, were boiled too hard and floating in a sourish honey with pine-kernels embedded like insects in amber.

The recipe can be used as an apetizer for mealtimes

Original recipe: In ovis hapalis: piper, ligustcum, nucleos infusos. Suffundes mel, acetum; liquamine temperabis.

Translation: For soft-boiled eggs: pepper, soaked pine nuts. Add honey and vinegar and mix with garum.


  • 4 eggs
  • ca. 2 oxz. (50g) pine nuts
  • 1 t. honey
  • 1 T. red-wine vinegar
  • ½ t. pepper
  • ½ t. lovage
  • 1 T. Garum


The Sauce

  • Soak the pine nuts overnight in water.
  • Then drain and grind the pine nuts finely (either in a blender/food processer) or (like you should with all things Apician) pound them in a large mortar. Add the pepper, honey and garum.
  • Heat the sauce in a bain-marie.

The Eggs

*Note: This bit of coolness as to how to poach eggs comes from the eternally awesome site Pass the Garum:

  • Sauce prepared, it's time to poach the eggs. For a good no-nonsense video explaining how to do this, click here. Otherwise:
  • Add a few inches of water to a saucepan and bring this to a gentle simmer.
  • Once the water is simmering away, add a little bit of white-vinegar - the word on science street is that this stops the egg from falling apart while it cooks.  Don't let the water boil.
  • Crack an egg into a small bowl or ramekin.
  • Stir the water in circles to create a vortex (or invoke Neptune to do it for you).  As it swirls, gently pour the egg from the bowl/ramekin into the water.  You need to be gentle to prevent it falling apart.
  • 4 minutes later and the egg is done.  Take it out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set it into your serving dish.
  • Put the eggs, left whole, into a serving bowl and sppon over the sauce. Serve.
  • This recipe can be adapted easily to other eggs, such as quail's eggs. In that case, keep an eye on the cooking-time: a quail's egg will be firm in 1 minute.
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