The first time I heard the name of this popular Thai dish, the horrific image that formed in my mind is something that any newspaper editor will probably censor. But after a search for the history of son-in-law eggs, it seems that the horrific image was not exactly far-fetched.
A fellow food blogger, Ellie, found two versions of the history of son-in-law eggs. One story goes that when a man is not good to his wife, on a visit to the mother-in-law, the latter will serve him this dish with the very plain message to straighten up or his “wedding tackles” will replace the eggs in the dish.
A second story goes that while a wife was on vacation, her mother visited her home and the husband scrambled to impress her. With only leftover hard-boiled eggs and basic ingredients in the kitchen, he reheated the eggs by deep frying them. Then he threw what he could find — water, tamarind juice, sugar and fish sauce — into a pan to make a sauce, forgot about it so that the mixture simmered until it was rich and thick. He poured the sauce over the fried eggs and served them to his mother-in-law who was truly impressed.
I don’t know which version you like better, I still prefer my version based on my sometimes overactive imagination which I sure can’t tell you about. I can, however, share with you the recipe for this wonderful dish with the photo taken by my daughter, Sam (she’s taking up A.B. Photography and she likes to practice by taking photos of what I cook).
- 3 tablespoons tamarind paste (available in supermarkets) or 6 tbsps. of fresh tamarind extract
- 2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons muscovado sugar
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup vegetable cooking oil
- 3 eggs hard-boiled
- 1 to 2 chilies (siling labuyo), finely sliced
- snipped cilantro for garnish
Start by making the sauce so that by the time the sauce is rich and thick, the eggs will still be hot. In a small pan, stir together the tamarind paste (or juice), sugar, fish sauce and half a cup of water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium and continue boiling, uncovered, to reduce.
Crack the eggs and peel off the shells. Cut each egg in half lengthwise.
Reheat the oil. Fry the eggs, cut side down, until golden. Depending on the size of your wok (and the depth of the oil), you may have to flip the egg halves for even browning. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and arrange, cut side up, on a plate or shallow bowl.
When the sauce is thick, ladle over the eggs. Sprinkle the toasted onion, garlic and sliced chilies on top and around the eggs. Finally, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Serve the son-in-law eggs hot.