Deep Fried Eggs: An Experiment in Deliciousness, But at What Price?
Okay, so, let me put this bluntly: I love deep-fried foods. Love them. If there's a food that I love, I promise you, I love it even more if it's been boiled in oil. Candy bars? Better deep fried. Ice cream? Better deep fried. Oatmeal - well, I'm still waiting for someone clever enough to encase it in something delicious and fry it deep, but I'd be willing to wager my first-born that it's better deep fried.
Which brings me to the humble egg. Eggs are also one of my favorite foods, and I find them to be at their best when cooked most simply: hard-boiled. Yes, put an egg in cold water, bring it to a boil, cook it for one minute, then turn off the heat, let it sit just six minutes longer in the heated water...and mere moments later with just a twist of the pepper mill and a dash of salt...you have the perfect food. (Well, okay, some vegans might take offense to this last statement, but just pretend, for a moment, if you will). Soooo, this all led me to ask: if I really think eggs are the bee's knees, would they be even better deep-fried? Always eager to try something new, I accepted my own challange without hesitation (yes, I really am that weird).
After plowing through my piles of cookbooks to see if such a dish even existed (I knew about Scotch Eggs, which are hard-boiled eggs encased in sausage and then deep-fried, but I wanted something...purer and without all the meat) I found a recipe that would be perfect. It came from my favorite Thai cookbook in the world, called "Real Thai", by Nancie McDermott. In it, she described a recipe called, "Kai Leuk Koey" or, for all you non-Thai speakers out there, "Son-In-Law Eggs". A deep fried egg recipe, and Thai, to boot!
Well, to make a VERY long story short (sorry), I made the eggs according to her recipe and they were...absolutely delicious! Yes, I worried that all my efforts (and about half a gallon of vegetable oil) would be in vain, but the eggs were wonderful and I would urge everyone to try making them. They were warm, crispy, and crunchy on the outside and soft and yummy in the middle. They are topped with fried shallots and garlic and a gooey-sweet brown sugar/fish sauce...sauce. Mmmm. Pure decadence.
Here's the recipe:
Make delicious sauce:
Combine 1/4 C brown sugar, 1/3 C tamarind liquid*, 3 T water, and 3 T fish sauce (vegetarians can substitute a mixture of 1/4 C vegetable stock mixed with 1 t soy sauce for the fish sauce) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for about ten minutes until reduced and syrup-y. Set aside.
1. Hard boil a couple eggs according to the method mentioned above (or whichever method you prefer...just err on the undercooked side, since they will be deep-fried later)
2. Peel them, then WIPE THEM VERY DRY with paper towels.
3. Thinly slice 1/4 C shallots and 2 T garlic.
4. Bring a 3 inch depth of vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a wok/saucepan. You'll know it's ready when you drop a piece of shallot in and it instantly sizzles.
5. Carefully put shallots in oil; fry for about one minute until they brown but do not burn! Remove and put on paper towels. Do the same with the garlic.
6. Slide in two eggs at a time in oil. Use a fork to keep them from sticking on the bottom and constantly move them. Let them come to a nice deep golden brown - about four to five minutes.
7. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Cut in half and sprinkle fried shallots and garlic on top. Drizzle with the yummy brown sugar sauce and enjoy!
*Tamarind liquid is a delicious sour-sweet condiment. To make it, you must purchase tamarind paste (about two bucks at the asian market in Clintonville; it comes in a nice little brown brick). Take about 1/2 C of it, mix it with 1 C hot water and stir and shake. You now have tamarind liquid. Just don't use the seeds! If you don't want to use it, you can substitute equal parts lime juice.