Thursday, October 15, 2009
What makes this dish unique from other egg dishes is that the egg is not just simply boiled and then thrown into a sambal or a sauce or a dip. It is boiled. Hard boiled. Peeled and then deep fried whole until the surface of the whole egg is golden brown and blistered.
The Thais have a dish quite similar to this where the egg is also deep fried to a golden blister. And they call this Son-in-law eggs. And "it is interesting to speculate from the grins of the Thais that it has something to do with a mother in law who doesn't have a very high opinion of her son in law.!" (Excerpt from Thai Cooking by Jennifer Brennan).
Now, this was the very first dish that I cooked when I visited my daughter and son in law in the US a couple of years ago (without hub). In fact I cooked this dish quite regularly when I stayed with them. In fact I cooked it so regularly that I would be surprised if my son in law did have a very high opinion of me or of my cooking.
I did so because my daughter had a ready bottle of homemade ground dried chillie paste in the refrigerator. I did it because I could boil eggs blind folded. I did it because it was my chance to eat really spicy food for a month without having to cook a separate dish for hub. And I did it because eggs do not need to be chopped, minced, fiddled with or skinned. In fact it need not even be fried into a golden blister if the fancy does not strike you. It just needs to be boiled. Hard boiled that is.
Because what makes this dish really really lovely is the sambal. In fact to a South East Asian being what makes any dish really scrumptious is the sambal. Period.
You could throw anything into a sambal....deep fried chicken, prawns, deep fried fish, deep fried brinjals or eggplants, squid, thin slices of deep fried beef, deep fried tempe, deep fried crispy anchovies, deep fried anything and it's heaven sent and good to go.
All that is needed to complete the meal is a plate of white steaming and freshly cooked rice. A big white and pristine mound of it.
And the rest they say is.............burp.....oops ...scoosh me
5 eggs, boiled, cooled and skinned
2 medium red onions or 6 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 or 3 cloves garlic
6 fresh red chiilies, seeded if you prefer it mild, which defeats the whole purpose of a sambal by the way.
2 teaspoons of ready ground chillie paste in a bottle
1/2 inch piece of belacan or shrimp paste
1 teaspoon of tamarind paste mixed with 1/2 cup water and juice squeezed out
Dry the boiled and peeled eggs thoroughly. Heat up a wok and pour enough oil into it to deep fry the eggs. When the oil is hot drop the eggs in gently one at a time and deep fry them until the surface is blistered and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside on a kitchen towel to drain of excess oil.
Pound the sliced onions or shallots, garlic together with the fresh large red chillies in a pestle and mortar until it becomes a coarse paste. Add the belacan and pound a little more. Keep aside.
Strain the tamarind juice and keep aside.
Take away some of the oil from the wok that was used for deep frying the eggs leaving about 4 tablespoons.
Heat up the oil again a little and then saute the pounded chillie and onion mixture. Add in the chillie paste almost immediately and saute until fragrant and the sambal turns a darker red and the oil rises to the top. Probably about 6 or 7 minutes. Pour in the tamamrind juice, add salt to taste and a pinch or two of sugar. Let it come ot a boil and then a slow simmer until the sauce is reduced to a wet, thick paste.
At this point you can throw in the eggs, whole, and mix to combine and cover the eggs completely with sambal of if you prefer slice the eggs in half and place on top of the sambal in a serving dish. Personally I would have preferred it the first way but because I wanted it to look a little pretty to be photographed I halved the eggs.