Food can speak volumes. The olive branch is probably the most famous example of this, a global representation of peace that began in ancient Greece. Then there's the Haitian joumou, a pumpkin soup that celebrates freedom; and a tray of sweets that's given to gesture a marriage proposal has been accepted in Afghanistan.
In Thailand, son-in-law eggs (kai loug kheuh) is another dish that sends a crystal clear message, but not one so harmonious. As the story goes (and, like most stories of this type, its origins and authenticity are often disputed, but fascinating nonetheless), the Thai street food staple was cooked by a mother who was less than happy with how her daughter was being treated by her son-in-law. So, she serves him the deep-fried eggs to let him know that if he’s not careful, his jewels are next in the frying line.
Gruesome origins aside, these eggs are a favourite of Thai children, namely for their crisp golden exterior, creamy centre and the rich, sweet and sour caramel sauce they’re coated in.
"Boil the eggs for six minutes (or just four minutes for runny yolk fans) from the time the water starts to boil, not from when you turn on the heat," cautions Tony Rungpradit, owner of Melbourne's Son in Law restaurant. The Collingwood eatery plates up a fresher take on the street food classic alongside other Thai favourites.
"In Thailand, you would find the son-in-law eggs cooked in a very thick sauce as gravy but we do much more lighter in our style," Rungpradit says.
Once pre-boiled to achieve their coveted creaminess, the eggs are dropped into piping hot oil to crisp up.
The ‘caramel sauce’ is often a mix of palm sugar, vegetable oil, eschalots, tamarind, coriander, chilli and fish sauce – although recipes vary (Neil Perry adds dried orange peel to his while Marion Grasby likes lemongrass in hers). They’re then finished with fried shallots and chilli, in most cases.
"When the sauce is cooled, the taste will be more pronounced. The sauce will get thicker as it cools down as well," says Rungpradit.
It’s always a good idea to cook a couple of extra eggs to be safe (losing them to the peeling process is an all-too-familiar reality). And another key tip is to work with eggs that have come down to room temperature before boiling.
Whichever way you son-in-law, our advice is not to wait for a family member to misbehave before making this street food delicacy. Unless that's a sure bet, in which case - go easy on them!