Burmese Golden Egg Curry
Around the start of the new year, I got a new cookbook to add to my collection, Burma by Naomi Duguid. If that name rings a bell it’s because Duguid is also the author of another cookbook I adore and have made a couple of recipes from already, Taste of Persia. The Burma cookbook languished on the shelf for no other reason than many of the recipes required a lot of unique/exotic ingredients and I simply don’t feel as “quasi-expert like” with my Asian cuisine cooking abilities as I do with Latin American/European cooking (clearly, I need that Thai vacation complete with multiple cooking classes to happen sometime…soon).
But as my mom came in for a visit last month, I figured having a “sous chef” on hand would be the perfect time to test a recipe from Burma. Once she was here, we flipped through an inordinate number of recipes from the cookbook before ultimately settling on Golden Egg Curry. I’ll be the first one to say that hard boiled eggs weren’t the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Burmese cuisine. (Tea leaf salad is; did you know that Burma is one of the few countries in the world where tea is both eaten AND drunk?) But the recipe was quite simple, I had virtually all of the ingredients already on hand, and in short, it intrigued me. Hard boiled eggs are so stereotypically British (Burma, after all, is a former British colony) but then ingredients like peanut oil, turmeric, fish sauce, and cayenne chiles are decidedly the Far East, the perfect blending of these two polar opposite cultures.
Duguid didn’t provide a background on this particular dish (my conjecture aside), nor did she mention if this is a dinner dish or one for breakfast. I know in many Eastern cultures, dishes people in the West would consider noon or evening meals are in fact eaten in the morning. Perhaps this is one of them. She does write that “Burmese egg curry is a beautiful way of presenting eggs,” and it really was. I mean, look at this picture.
My one critique of the recipe is that it didn’t provide nearly enough food. It says that it serves four. Well, we served it for three and it was on the sparse side, and no, we didn’t have heaping portions. The eggs were sufficient since you cut them in half, but there could have been more of the curry portion. So if you’re making this for more than two people, I’d definitely recommend doubling it. A bonus- it’s extremely nutritious.
Now that I’ve gotten over my apprehension of Burmese cooking, I wonder what recipe I’ll try next from Duguid’s culinary work.
Golden Egg Curry
Recipe courtesy of Naomi Duguid’s Burma
4 large or extra-large eggs
1/2 cup peanut oil or unroasted sesame oil
Pinch of turmeric
2 small shallots, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper, or to taste
2 medium tomatoes (about 1/2 pound), finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 or 3 green cayenne chiles, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips each
-Place the eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook at a medium boil for 8 minutes, Drain the eggs and cool in cold water. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them.
-Heat the oil in a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric and stir to dissolve it. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a drop of water is dropped into it, add the peeled eggs and fry until golden and a little blistered all over: cook on each side in turn, then try to balance the eggs on their ends to cook the tips. With a slotted spoon, lift the eggs out of the hot oil and onto a plate. Cut them lengthwise in half and set aside.
-Pour off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil (the oil can be used again for stir-frying). Heat the oil remaining in the pan over medium heat, add the shallots and garlic, and fry briefly, until translucent. Add the chili power and tomatoes and, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, cook at a strong simmer until the tomatoes have broken down into a softened mass, about 10 minutes.
-Stir in the fish sauce and salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning if you wish. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the chile strips, and stir. Place the eggs cut side down in the sauce and cook until the oil sizzles, about 3 minutes, Serve hot or at room tempeature.
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