I like hard-boiled eggs any way you serve them, but I adore them in this magnificent party dish. Fried to a golden brown, halved and arranged on a platter, the eggs are sprinkled with crispy rings of fried shallots and napped with a stupendous sweet-and-tangy sauce of tamarind, fish sauce, and palm sugar. It is glorious, and although Son-in-Law Eggs are often served at Thai wedding celebrations and Buddhist ordination feasts, they are simple to make.
Indian-style tamarind chutney is an excellent short-cut to make use of when preparing this sauce. You’ll often find it among the Indian ingredients on well-stocked supermarket shelves, or check the mail order sources or in Middle Eastern and South Asian groceries. If frying the hard-boiled eggs seems over the top to you, simply skip that step; the dish will still be superb. Serve Sonin-Law Eggs with rice, couscous, thin rice noodles, or triangles of toast. You will love having something substantial with which to savor the delicious sauce.
To prepare the sauce, combine the tamarind liquid, palm sugar, fish sauce, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Lower heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook 4 to 5 minutes to make a smooth, delicate syrup, stirring once or twice, and then transfer to a small bowl to cool.
To fry the eggs and crispy shallots, line a tray or two plates with paper towels, and set a slotted spoon or a pair of spatulas by the stove. Heat about 3 inches of vegetable oil in a medium skillet or wok over medium heat to frying temperature, 350 to 375 degrees F. When a bit of shallot sizzles at once, carefully lower 3 of the eggs into the oil and fry, turning to cook them evenly, until golden brown and crisp all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels, and repeat with the remaining 3 eggs. Scatter the shallots into the skillet and fry 1 to 2 minutes, until handsomely browned but not burned. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Halve the eggs lengthwise and arrange on a serving platter. Pour the tamarind sauce over eggs, sprinkle them with the crispy shallots, chili flakes, and cilantro, and serve warm or at room temperature.
© 2004 All rights reserved. Published by Chronicle Books.