Burmese egg curry is a beautiful way of presenting eggs. They’re first boiled, then peeled and fried in medium-hot oil. The smooth whites blister and firm up into an attractive golden crust. Only then are eggs cut in half and added to a sauce - here, a light tomato-based sauce that’s mildly chilli hot. Serve with rice or bread, a crisp salad, and a condiment like shallot and dried shrimp relish or a chilli–garlic sauce.
- 4 large or extra-large eggs, preferably free-range
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) peanut oil or unroasted sesame oil
- ⅓ tsp turmeric
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder or cayenne, or to taste
- 2 medium tomatoes (about ½ lb), finely chopped
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- 2 or 3 green cayenne chillies, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips each
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
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.
Heat the oil in a wide heavy frying pan (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.
Pour off all but 2 to 3 tbsp 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 chilli 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.
Stir in the fish sauce and salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning if you wish. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the chilli 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.
Recipe from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid, with photographs by Richard Jung. Published by Artisan Books (copyright 2012).