Hello Everyone! Who here doesn’t love eggs? Eggs are probably one the the reasons why I don’t think I’d ever be able to go on a fully vegan diet. It’s amazing how many varieties of dishes we can make using the eggs as a side or main ingredient. So put your hands up if you love eggs!
To be perfectly honest, boiled eggs are my least favourite from all of the basic ways to cook eggs. Since I like a runny yolk, my absolute go-to would be sunny-side up eggs (with browned, crispy edge that gives a certain nutty flavour to the white) and/or poached eggs. I guess it’s now safe to say that the recipe that I will be sharing tonight has changed the way I see boiled eggs. Now, if you’re like me and this recipe doesn’t convert you, then I don’t know what will!
Here’s a great way to turn boring and plain-old boiled eggs into a spectacular appetizer or side dish at home. The East Timorese version of Balado is an adaptation of the original Indonesian Spicy Eggs, known as Telur Balado. Balado is a popular snack that you can find being sold, usually by children, all over the streets of East Timor. If you want a flavourful egg dish where the sauce penetrates all the way into the inside, then you really want to develop a fried and crispy skin to your eggs. Likewise, you can serve this dish with a fried egg or sunny-side up, but tradition calls for boiled eggs.
On the streets for just 25 cents, you get a fried, hard-boiled accompanied by a bold sour and spicy chilli sauce, called Ai Manas. Ai Manas is the heart of every East Timorese food. It’s very famous all over the country and comes with many regional varieties that vary according to taste. Green or red chillies often make up the bulk of the ingredients of the paste. The chilies are grounded along with lime or lemon rind and juice, ginger, onions, and several other local spices. Even a teaspoon of this sauce is enough to fire up any meal. Thai chillies are usually used for this sauce, which can be significantly hot for some. Use what you like and can tolerate.
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 10 MINS| SERVES 6
6 large free-range eggs
For the spicy chilli sauce
8-10 pc red bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1-2 tsp white granulated sugar (optional)
Handful of Thai basil, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
Small thumb-sized ginger, grated
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Ai Manas: Using a mortar and pestle, pound the chillies, garlic, and red onion into a rough paste.
Follow with the grated ginger, lemon zest, and a pinch of the basil leaves. Continue to pound and season with a touch of salt. Add in the lemon juice and give it a good mix. Taste and adjust to your liking.
I had to add about a teaspoon or two of white granulated sugar to balance the spice and tang of the sauce. You don’t have to add it if you’re alright with the level of sour and spice.
Once done, add the rest of the chopped basil leaves to the sauce, mix, and then set aside.
Balado: To boil the eggs, heat a medium-sized pot of water (enough to cover all the eggs) over high heat until boiling. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and carefully place the eggs in the pot using a ladle to prevent them from cracking.
Depending on your preference, boil for 5 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 10 minutes for hard-boiled eggs. Take note that you’ll be cooking the eggs again, so I would recommend you go for soft or medium eggs if you don’t like over-cooked boiled eggs as a result.
While the eggs are cooking, prepare an ice bath* by combining ice and tap water in a large bowl. Once the eggs are cooked, immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
Peel the eggs and make sure to pat them dry if you don’t want them to explode while frying.
Heat oil, enough to submerge an egg for deep frying, in a medium-sized pot over medium high. Carefully lower the eggs into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Carefully remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess grease.
Serve the fried boiled egg with the spicy chilli sauce and enjoy while hot!
*The ice bath will cool the eggs quickly and stop the cooking process. The ice water will also cause the egg to contract and pull away from the shell, which will make it easier to peel.
Guess who’s back? Back again? That’s right, I’m back from the dead (as some may say) and here with another post! I do apologise for not posting over the past few weeks. I just finished my first semester of my 4th year and it feels so good to have completed everything! I finished on Tuesday morning and practically celebrated the whole day – from a barbecue, to 22 Jump Street, and finally ending the night/early the next morning at a bar/club. I didn’t really get back into my cooking until this morning after having gone grocery shopping to fill up my empty fridge. It felt so good to see a shelf full of fresh fruit and vegetables, and meat.
Today’s recipe is something close to my heart, or should I say tummy? I remember growing up with Thien Thien Chicken Rice just a couple of blocks away from where I spent my early 7 years of life, and still continued to go back and forth there up until today. $3.20 chicken rice? Don’t mind if I do! Hainanese Chicken Rice here in Sydney is almost 3x (sometimes even 4x) more expensive and honestly not as delicious as chicken rice back home – but I can’t do anything about it. When I crave it, I just have to have it. I recently had some at Kreta Ayer in Kingsford with some friends and we were a bit disappointed. The chicken was well cooked, rice was mediocre, and the sauces, disappointed. Chilli sauce from a bottle? No spring onion and ginger oil? No soup to go with the dish? This must be a joke.
After that disappointment, my friend and fellow housemate, Marissa, and I decided that when we were both free from assignments and exams, that we would make our very own Hainanese Chicken Rice, and that’s exactly what we did for today. I was in charge of cooking the chicken and rice, while Marissa took care of the sauces and carving of the chicken.
PREP TIME 10 MINS| COOKING TIME 1 HOUR| SERVES 6-8
For the chicken
1 whole chicken (ours was 1.6kg)
5-6 thick slices of ginger
3 stalks of spring onion, cut into 1″ sections (both green and white parts)
1 pandan leaf, washed and halved
2 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt for cleaning and seasoning the chicken
For the rice
3 cups uncooked long-grain rice, washed and drained
3 cups reserved chicken poaching broth
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pandan leaf, washed and halved
2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
For the chilli sauce
6 red birds-eye chillies
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp reserved chicken poaching broth
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
For the spring onion and ginger oil
4 stalks spring onion, sliced thinly
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp salt
For the dressing and garnishes
1 tomato, sliced
1 lebanese cucumber, peeled and sliced
Sliced spring onions
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp chicken poaching broth
1 tbsp sesame oil
Rub a small handful of salt all over the chicken, getting rid of any loose skin and dirt. Rinse chicken well, inside and outside, and season with a generous amount of salt. Stuff the chicken with the ginger slices, green onions and pandas leaves. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and fill with cold water to cover the chicken. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low to keep it to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes more (less if you’re using a smaller chicken).
When the chicken is cooked through, turn the heat off and remove the pot from the burner. Immediately lift and transfer the chicken into a bath of ice water to cool. Discard the stuffing. The quick cooling will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat soft and tender, and giving the skin a lovely firm texture. The quality of the chicken skin is important in this dish! It’s all about the skin texture. DO NOT DISCARD THE CHICKEN POACHING BROTH.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauces and dressing. For the chilli sauce, combine chillies, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt in a mortar and pound to a paste. Add the lemon juice and chicken poaching broth, and pound again. Set aside.
For the spring onion and ginger oil, add the spring onions, ginger and salt to a heatproof mortar and pound lightly with the pestle. Heat the oil in a small frying pan until smoking and pour onto the mixture. Once the sizzling stops, combine lightly with the pestle and leave to infuse for a few minutes.
For the dressing, mix the sesame oil and soy sauce with the chicken poaching broth.
For the rice, heat cooking oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ginger and the garlic and fry until your kitchen smells like heaven. Be careful not to burn the aromatics! Add in your drained rice and pandan leaves, and stir to coat, cook for 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, mix well. Add the reserved poaching broth and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (with lid still on) for 5-10 minutes more.
While the rice is cooking, remove the chicken from the ice bath and carve to serve.
If you have any remaining chicken stock after that, you can season it and add a few onion slices. This can be served as a light soup to accompany the meal. We added some slices of hairy melon to our soup.