This is a popular dish in Thai cuisine, requiring just a few simple ingredients to make. Hard boiled eggs are fried until it forms an appetizing golden skin, cut into half, drizzled with a sweet, tangy tamarind sauce, garnished with fried shallots, crisp fried red chilies and fresh cilantro. It is could be served as an accompaniment to rice or as an appetizer.
Several stories surround the origin of the dish and its name. One story says that the egg’s light golden brown hue is symbolic of a bride-to-be’s parents’ hope that their son-in-law will be blessed with fortune and wealth. Another story holds that the dish was made by Thai mothers for prospective son-in-law as a warning on the possible fate of their “parts” if they fail to take care of their daughters (the eggs in this dish is symbolic of the son-in-law’s “precious parts”). Another twist to that story was that the dish was made by a man’s mother-in-law to indicate her daughter was not well fed; this time, mother will prepare eggs fried, sliced and served with sauce, but next time if there’s nothing to eat it would be the son-in-law’s “parts” that would be fried, sliced and served with sauce!
Eggs, known as “khai” ไข่ in Thai are commonly consumed throughout the country, valued as a source of protein. Chicken eggs and duck eggs are perhaps the most popular type in Thailand while quail eggs are consumed to a lesser extent. For this dish, duck eggs or chicken eggs are most commonly used however quail eggs could be used as well.
Tamarind is usually sold as a paste. To make tamarind juice, dissolve some of the paste in some water until it forms a juice. If the paste contains seeds, discard the seeds.
This dish uses Thai palm sugar which is considered to be considerably more nutritious and flavorful that refined sugar.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 – 30 minutes
- 4 duck eggs or 5 chicken eggs – boiled
- 2-3 tablespoons finely sliced shallots (sliced lengthwise)
- Oil for frying
- Fresh cilantro leaves for garnishing (optional)
- Dried red chilies cut to 1-inch pieces (optional)
- 2 tablespoons tamarind juice
- 2 ½ -3 tablespoons Thai palm sugar – crumbled, grated or shaved
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
Peel eggs and discard shells. Set aside on a paper towel.
In a wok or frying pan, fry sliced shallots until crisp and brown. Set aside on a paper towel.
Lower heat to very low. Stirring constantly fry the dried red chilies until crisp and aromatic. These burn easily so it is imperative to stir constantly and ensure the flame is low. Set aside the fried chilies on a paper towel.
In a non-reactive cooking vessel, combine all ingredients for sauce.
Over low heat, simmer the sauce until it has the consistency of a syrup. If it is too thin, cook a bit longer, if too thick, add a few tablespoons of spring water.
Taste the sauce. Sweet and sour should be the dominant flavors while the salty flavor should be relatively mild. Adjust the flavor of the sauce to your preference by adding more ingredients as required (add tamarind to increase sourness, palm sugar for sweetness and fish sauce for the salty flavor).
Set the sauce aside.
Heat a wok over medium-high flame.
Fry the eggs set aside earlier until it forms a light golden brown ‘crust’. Ensure the eggs do not have even a drop of water to minimize splattering.
Take eggs out and drain on a paper towel.
Cut eggs into half lengthwise with a sharp knife.
Arrange sliced eggs on a plate.
Pour sauce over eggs.
Garnish with fried shallot slices, crisp fried red chilies, fresh cilantro and serve straightaway.