Burma shares borders with China, India, Thailand, so you can just imagine what a culinary crossroads it is. Burma is also a former British colony, but this recipe cleaves vigorously to local roots.
Frying the boiled eggs before adding them to the sauce gives them a wonderful new texture.
The sauce is nothing more than fresh tomatoes and a few spices. Almost all the moisture comes from the tomatoes themselves, so choose good ones. I used a couple of plump heirloom tomatoes that I bought this morning from the farmers’ market across the street.
First, boil the eggs and peel them. The most flavorful brand in my area comes from cage-free chickens who eat organic food. I hope they lead happy lives.
Add the boiled eggs to your wok and fry them in about 1/2 inch of oil. They start out like this:
And in just a few minutes the outsides become all crispy, like this:
This is what they look like, a little closer:
And then you cut them in half.
One the eggs are done, it’s time for the aromatics to come into the wok.
Then simply add the tomatoes, dry spices, the eggs, and the herbs, and you’re done.
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 4 eggs, placed into boiling water and cooked for 8 minutes, then removed to an ice water bath until cool, then peeled
- 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 inch ginger, and 1 shallot; minced finely
- 2 finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp mild red chili powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp black pepper (vary the heat by adding cayenne to taste)
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 cup cilantro, loosely packed
- Pour peanut oil into your wok until it’s about 1/2 inch deep, which will probably be around half a cup. Heat the oil until a drop of water sputters and pops. Then add the eggs (#1) and roll them around, frying them for a few minutes until they’re golden brown on all sides. Put the eggs on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. When cool, cut them in half.
- Pour off all but 1-2 Tbsp oil from the wok. Heat the remaining oil until barely smoking and then add the garlic, ginger, and shallot (#2). Stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes (#3) and the dry spices (#4). Turn the heat to medium and stir for about 8-10 minutes, until the tomatoes turn into a sauce. If everything gets too dry, add up to 1/2 cup water.
- Add the fish sauce (#5) and stir.
- Turn off the heat. Add the eggs and stir gently until they’re covered with sauce and heated through.
- Then add the cilantro (#6), stir it all together, and serve.
VARIATIONS: Substitute another herb for the cilantro, such as basil or shiso. For a completely vegetarian dish, omit the fish sauce and instead of eggs, use firm tofu cut into 1 inch cubes (fry the tofu as you would the eggs in this recipe).