Monday, July 1, 2013

Adult update of a childhood favorite: "Asian" deviled eggs

Forgive me and my gaijin offenses, these deviled eggs aren't Asian, and I don't claim them to be. But, by extension, loading up normally boring deviled eggs with oils, spices, and seasonings that I also tend to find in Asian-American cooking indicates that I might be able to call these Asian-inspired.

This reminds me of the time I went to Belgium last year and we ordered "filet americain" (akin to the French "steak tartare", or raw beef chopped and mixed with mayo, mustard, parsley, egg, etc) and someone was shocked to learn that 99% of Americans would never dream of eating raw beef (we are such a wimpy bunch). So why is it called American filet in Belgium? I'm still not sure, but when we asked our server one day at a train-station diner in Liege (where we had what I thought was the best filet americain on that trip. I lived to tell the tale), the answer seemed to be that Americans love hamburgers and filet americain was the consistency of hamburgers, and therefore seemed American. Seems legit.


Anyway, back to the point, this post isn't about filet americain (maybe it should be, I'm drooling), but I'm asking your permission for me to call these Asian deviled eggs because they have asian-ish ingredients (and because, if you couldn't tell by now SFB readers, these are my favorite flavors in the universe). Are we OK now? We are. Fantastic!

I have more story here, folks. Hang on. As a child, deviled eggs were my Achilles heel. I never knew I was eating deviled eggs, but they were the devil. Mom and dad bought me a children's cookbook called Kinder Krunchies back around when I was 5 years old. Oh internets, how I love you in the same way that I love that I can also download episodes of the Care Bears and The Real Ghostbusters, here it is! I was always so upset because we never had the ingredients on hand to make any of the "healthy" recipes in the book, except for "Egg Boats". These were essentially deviled eggs with a toothpick and little paper sail. Genius! Fast forward 5 years and 300 cholesterol points later (so high for a child my age that I had the doctors baffled, but before the days of good/bad cholesterol), I was still asking for egg boats for breakfast every morning and as any spoiled but pouting child, I got was I asked for - just a simple mix of eggs and low-fat mayo. But they were my Achilles heel because it was that nasty cholesterol that led to the age of mandated fat-free american cheese and "turkey salami" sandwiches on nut bread and then, ultimately, the Great 7-11 Hot Dog Backlash of 1992. The rest was downhill.

Long since the days of egg boats, and now that I'm all grown up and in charge of my own culinary destiny, I've come back to that favorite-of-foods but have also been on a quest for recipes or ideas to make deviled eggs zingy and exciting. My cholesterol has settled down (well, nobody has ever run into the examining room wide-eyed and horrified about my numbers, so I guess I'm good). Now that I'm on my sriracha mission, no deviled egg goes with it, it's my specialty (sriracha deviled eggs, pretty simple and similar to that printed in The Sriracha Cookbook). The perfect sweet heat kick for a bland deviled egg.

The challenge comes in when I want to serve my deviled eggs to my friends at parties when a majority of people "don't like spicy food". How is this possible? But what else is it about sriracha eggs that makes me smile, without the heat? A little nuttiness, smokiness, savory salt, a little sweet, slightly acidic tang, but never so much so as to outweigh a creamy egg. So I used a mild sriracha for this recipe, "Shark brand" regular. Actually, this is also a great excuse to go through my recently-acquired sriracha inventory. Also raided my cabinet for Asian condiment goodies: soy sauce, kewpie mayo (this ingredient deserves its own post), sesame oil, ginger, sweet chili garlic sauce, and a few other treats, and you have yourselves a mild Asian deviled egg that is nutty, sweet, and umami. Hey, remember, you gave me permission to call it Asian two paragraphs up! Thank you.

Oh, did I mention that these aren't entirely Asian-ish ingredients? I also threw in some non-asian-themed stuff like dijon mustard, sweet Hungarian smoked paprika and smoked salt. You need to trust me on this.

Oh, and more discussion points. Deviled eggs are photo-worthy with Pampered Chef gadgets. I forgot the name of this product, but we call it the egg squirter around our kitchen (since that has been the only thing I've used it for, being that I don't bake cakes). Just look at what you can do with it!
Cleaning is a pain, but it's worth it. Also, if you are as serious as I am about these things, buy an egg tray for serving. Besides looking pretty, they keep your precious cargo from slipping off of the table and ending up doggie brunch. Maybe next time I'll even put little sails on them...

Servers 12 (2 deviled eggs each)

12 2-week old eggs (if you are worried about appearance, make 14 in case you have a blooper, then eat it)
 1/3 cup kewpie mayo*
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp "Shark brand" sriracha (mild)*
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chili garlic sauce*, such as Mae Ploy
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Hungarian sweet smoked paprika*
1 tsp alderwood smoked salt*
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions

*I'm going to start a new system of flagging non foodie hipster ingredient alternatives. I can't promise they'll come out the same way, but I understand not everyone is as obsessive as I am about obscure ingredients. Kewpie mayo can be subbed for regular old boring MSG-free mayo (but I can't promise you'll have much umami). You can use regular sriracha, but if you have heat-averse guests, I suggest just adding 1 tbsp sriracha and more sweet chili garlic. If you don't have that either, just add a touch of maple syrup, 1 tsp chopped mild de-seeded jalapeno, and ground garlic. Regular paprika works too, but the Hungarian sweet smoked adds both sweet and smoke which is amazing. If you don't have smoked salt, just use regular and consider using a 1/4 tsp of liquid smoke.
Add enough water in a large pot to cover eggs at least an inch or two and drop in the white vinegar and half tsp of salt (this keeps egg whites from running out of eggs and makes them easier to peel). Boil, then reduce heat to low for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat and keep covered and let sit for 12 minutes. Remove eggs and let cool under cold running water for 1 minute (or you can move them onto ice or a pot of cold water). Peel eggs, slice in half, and place yolks in a bowl. Mix with the remainder of the ingredients except for green onions. Place in Pampered Chef egg squirter and squirt into 24 egg halves (or, if you don't have the squirter, just use a small spoon and be delicate). Sprinkle with additional paprika and green onion.





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