If I were to ever utter any regrets about my life, it would be the years I wasted being a picky eater. My remorse comes into play when I think of the doors that I never opened when I’d be given the chance to try a new food. I forgive myself for some of it, but it is my love for food now that makes me much more aware of my missed opportunities.
As I have grown as a person, I am the queen of trying new foods. The fears that trapped me in my youth now display themselves as a food adventurer who is always willing to navigate dishes that may be unknown.
This summer I was lucky enough to enjoy a Myanmar themed meal at the Waterleaf Restaurant. (The College of DuPage restaurant serves as a training ground for Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management students. Check your own local culinary programs and find out how you can support the future culinary world).
Full transparency, I did not know where Myanmar was on a map (Southeast Asia between Bangladesh and Thailand). Even fuller transparency, I’m absolutely horrible at geography but food has helped me discover delicacies over oceans I have never crossed.
From everything I found online, the food of Myanmar (or more commonly known Burmese food) is really quite amazing. It seems to be this astounding merger of unique flavors from all over the continent of Asia. I was tasting combinations that were familiar yet still remarkably distinctive.
The research for me on Burmese food will be ongoing as I access proper literature on the history and find some of the specialized ingredients. (And yes, that is a cliffhanger for a future blog because the Tea Leaf Salad is another one to learn).
My excitement today was to talk about how easy it is to overcome food fears when you start looking for the common thread between cultures. The first dish we were served at our lunch was a Golden Egg Curry. There is nothing intimidating about that. Who doesn’t like eggs?
The appetizer that was presented was a hard-boiled egg in a dish with a tomato sauce. There was fragrance that was inviting and warm but the flavor didn’t scream with spice as it landed on my tongue. The balance of common ingredients across the world (eggs and tomatoes) with a playfulness that touched on the influences of neighboring countries like India, China and Thailand.
The more I tasted it, the more it made me think how many countries have some sort of egg and tomato dish. Shakshuka from North Africa and the Middle East is poached eggs in chunky tomato sauce. Eggs in Purgatory is the Italian version of eggs poached in tomato sauce. Menemen is a Turkish dish made with tomato, eggs and black and red pepper. Huevos Rancheros is essentially fried eggs topped with pico de gallo. And we can’t forget the American favorite of scrambled eggs and ketchup! (Or maybe we can forget that one.)
They are all different but the common factor of eggs and tomato make them an approachable dish from both a dining point of view and as a home cook trying to recreate something new.
The recipes I used for guidance online all had a hard-boiled egg on the plate with their golden tomato curry. I’m not one hundred percent positive if a hard-boiled egg is my favorite egg preparation even if it seemed to be the overwhelming authentic Myanmar Google preference. I went for a jammy egg because some parts of me are still picky. I did adorn it with simple stove top tomato curry which is now one of my new favorite recipes.
I’m going to have to read more about Myanmar and its rich cultural background but this dish was a really good way to start a voyage.
Golden Egg Curry
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Serves 4 as an appetizer
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
3 Tablespoons of peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder*
1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
1/2 pound tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used whatever I could find in the garden so this recipe was 1 roma, 1 small yellow boy and some cherry tomatoes)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Optional: Crispy shallot for a garnish or if you like a little crunch
1. Boil eggs for 6 1/2 minutes. Immediately submerge in an ice bath and delicately remove shell. Dry the egg thoroughly. Set aside.
2. In a higher edge pan, heat oil over medium high heat. (I keep making this in a 2.5-quart pan.) Add turmeric. Stir into oil.
3. Add the egg back to the pan. Roll each side in the turmeric oil. This should go very quickly. It was less than 2 minutes. The goal is to get a little crisp on the egg outside.
4. Remove the egg from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside.
5. In the same pan, lower the heat to medium. Add onion and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes.
6. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant. (My garlic cloves were huge, but I’m okay with that.)
7. Add your desired curry and tomatoes *My yellow curry was very mild the first time I made this. This time I added 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste for a little heat. I got a little runny nose but not a fire in my mouth.
8. Simmer with frequent stirring until tomatoes break down about 10 minutes.
9. Add 1 teaspoon of the fish sauce. Taste. You may want more fish sauce.
10. At this point, you can do two things. You can roll your eggs back in the sauce so they are coated in the tomato curry (green plate) or cut your egg in half and serve in a pool of sauce (white plate) . The challenge with introducing the egg back to the pot was cooking the egg more.
11. Gingerly slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Serve warm.
Optional: I did eat one half with some fried shallots. If you dig some crunchy texture to your smoothness, go for it!
Remember, there is a joy to be found when someone suggests trying a new cuisine to you. (Thank you Michelle). Put any old fussy food mentality aside and allow yourself the freedom to get a palate passport to the world that surrounds us.
The easiest path to understanding new food is behind the stove and classes at The Chopping Block are a great way to start. In August, you can make Chinese stir fry, Japanese sushi, Spanish tapas, Mediterranean mezze, Neapolitan pizza or even a good old fashioned New England seafood party without ever having to pack a bag! We look forward to seeing your own food travels whether virtually at home or in our kitchen:
- Virtual Chicken with Black-Bean Garlic Sauce Friday, August 11 6pm CST
- Hands-On Sushi Workshop at Lincoln Square, Saturday August 12, 6pm
- Hands-On Spanish Tapas Tuesday, August 15, 6pm
- Hands-On Mediterranean Mezze Wednesday, August 16, 6pm
- Hands-On Neapolitan Pizzeria Friday August 18, 11am