Every now and then, something about a recipe grabs you and pulls you in, whispering ‘cook me, eat me’.
It may be an ingredient, a new technique, a foolproof twist on an old favourite; it may be the colours; it may be the story behind its creation.
This recipe by Naomi Duguid had that something. Maybe it was the picture of golden-skinned eggs nesting in just enough vibrant red-yellow tomato based sauce. Maybe it was the intriguing idea of shallow frying boiled eggs in turmeric oil until it blisters, the browned outside contrasting with the tender egg white beneath the surface.
Maybe it was also the attraction of using the simplest ingredients in an Asian kitchen to create a complex and nourishing curry.
The recipe was simple to follow. The hardest part was balancing the boiled eggs on their ends so the ends are also fried in the turmeric oil, and even this turned out to be easier than expected. The eggs mostly stood up on the yolk end without any trouble. I managed their thin ends by holding an egg gently in a pair of chopsticks, and steadying the egg against a spatula. The only drawback is I could only ‘stand up’ one egg at a time, though this didn’t create any problems for the finished product. After a couple of minutes in the oil, the egg whites did indeed begin to blister and become golden-brown from the turmeric and the frying.
The resulting dish needed little more than steamed jasmine rice and the simplest of greens to complete the meal. I used a little of the turmeric scented oil to sauté some baby spinach. The turmeric oil brought the flavours together, and the dark green provided a backdrop to the red-gold curry sauce.
Mr Gander was sceptical about an egg curry, especially one that features boiled eggs. But, after he cleaned his bowl, he agreed it pays to take a leap of faith every once in a while, and said ‘you can definitely make this again.’
About a year ago, I made a Burmese peanut pork curry. The recipe also used a deceptively simple seasoning to create mild but memorable flavours that complemented the pork so well. (unfortunately I lost the recipe and have been unable to find it again.)
If the peanut pork curry and golden egg curry are representative of some of the styles and flavours of Burmese cuisine, I want to learn more about this cuisine.
Golden Egg Curry
(from Naomi Duguid’s new book, Burma: a river of flavour. Recipe reproduced on a number of websites and blogs.)
4 large eggs or extra-large eggs, preferably free-range
1/3 cup peanut oil or unroasted sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 small shallots, minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red chile powder, or to taste
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 or 3 green cayenne chillies, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips each [I used green thai chillies]
1. 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.
2. 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. Frying the egg is a fun little task, quickly done, and it makes them very attractive. With a slotted spoon, lift the eggs out of the hot oil and onto a plate. Cut them lengthwise in half and set aside.
3. 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 chile powder 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.
4. 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 temperature.
Serving: with steamed jasmine rice, and baby spinach or Asian greens sautéd in 1-2 tablespoons of turmeric oil.