Good Son-In-Law Eggs

June 22, 2017

According to the internet, Good Son-In-Law eggs translates to either Khai Luk Khoei or Kai Loog Keuy. If you happen to be Thai and I’ve gotten this wrong, forgive me–I speak no Thai.

Whatever the correct name, my recipe for Good Son-In-Law Eggs doesn’t even come from a Thai cookbook. Instead, it appears in the very Irish Diana Henry’s A Change Of Appetite.

You’ve surely noticed the heat, unless you live in Antarctica, or are a climate-change denier, though a climate-change denier isn’t likely to be reading here. It was so very hot that I was cooking barefoot, which we can all agree is an Unsafe Kitchen Practice. But houses in Northern California lack air conditioning, because prior to global warming, we didn’t need it.

So, I’m cooking, I’m schvitizing (Yiddish for sweating profusely), when I notice the cat sitting and staring the way cats do when they’re about kill something big. Closer inspection reveals a wasp.

This wasp, it’s inside. Not too lively, but still. So, long story short, I vacuumed the little bastard, landing him in the plastic suction bin, which didn’t finish him (her?) off.

Now what? Parking the vacuum on the backyard wheelchair ramp, I hoped the wasp would escape via the open attachment nozzle or expire, whichever came first. Meanwhile, I returned to the kitchen….only to break a Pyrex measuring cup. (Not vintage. Notice how calm I am.)

Gosh, I could’ve used the vaccuum…. but it was occupied. By a live wasp. The only option was to clean up by hand, which I did, slowly and carefully. Only then did I put on my shoe, discovering the tiny piece of glass on my left foot.

You can imagine the mess.

Hours later I awoke to the sound of rain–rain!!–in June! June! It doesn’t rain in California at this time of year!

Dimly I recalled the wasp-filled vaccuum, still outdoors.

This story does have a happy ending. The vaccuum, parked under the roof overhang, stayed dry. The wasp expired. The cut was shallow.

Surely you don’t want pictures of dead wasps or blood. Here. Unrelated. But so much nicer.

Most importantly, Good Son-In-Law Eggs are insanely delicious, and none of the above is necessary to enjoy them.

This recipe isn’t authentic. True Good Son-In-Law Eggs deep fry the eggs and use fresh hot peppers. I had no cilantro in the house, and given the 85 degree heat, wasn’t going to out to buy any.

Henry calls for tamarind paste in her recipe, while mine comes from a block. Tamarind in block form is widely available, but buy the paste if you must. Either way, tamarind, a fruit with a sweet-sour taste, keeps forever in the fridge. It’s not the prettiest ingredient, but don’t let that deter you.

As I was only feeding myself, I scaled Henry’s recipe down considerably, making two eggs instead of eight and using one shallot instead of six. Though I have to say the result was so incredibly good I may well make the full amount from now on.

Good Son-In-Law Eggs

Adapted from Diana Henry’s recipe in A Change Of Appetite

Yield: one serving, easily scaled upward

Preparation Time: With rice, about one hour. Without rice, 30 minutes

scant 4 ounces white Basmati rice (optional, but wonderful)

1 tablespoon tamarind, broken off a block (see notes for discussion of tamarind)

1 cup water

2 large eggs

1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)

1/4 teaspoon brown sugar or tiny piece of palm sugar (see notes)

peanut oil, for the pan

1 scallion, trimmed and sliced thinly

1-2 dried hot red peppers, to taste


Start by making the rice; 1/2 cup dry rice yields about 2 cups cooked rice. Appetites vary. I can’t finish this much in a sitting, but leftover rice never lasts in my house.

Measure the water into a measuring cup–a 2 cup measure or larger is useful for later steps–and heat the water in a microwave for one minute. Drop the tamarind in. The amount of tamarind doesn’t need to be exactly one tablespoon; you want a lump about the size of a large strawberry. Allow to soak for 20 minutes.

Hard boil the eggs for 6-7 minutes. Cool, shell, and set aside while you make the sauce.

Lift the tamarind out of the water. Place a small sieve over the water–don’t discard it–and rub the pulp through, leaving the seeds and membrane behind. If pulp collects on the underside of the sieve, dip it carefully into the water. Or scrape gently with a spatula and dip into the tamarind water.

Pour about one tablespoon peanut oil in small, heavy sauté pan. I used a seven-inch All-Clad. Fry the shallots until golden brown but not dry; give them about four minutes. Remove half the shallots to a dish.

Now add the tamarind water and brown or palm sugar to the pan and bring it to a boil for three minutes, stirring. Watch the pan: you might need to turn the heat down slightly. Fish sauce smells strong while reducing, and this will reduce a great deal.

To serve: place the eggs in a bowl. Slice them in half. Add the rice, then spoon the sauce over. Add the reserved shallots. Sprinkle the sliced scallion over, crack open the hot peppers, and add the seeds–how many depends on how much of a heat freak you are. Wolf down.

Notes:  Henry’s recipe calls for tamarind paste, which is sold in jars. It can taste tinny, so I prefer to buy tamarind in block form. Break off what you need and wrap the remainder in plastic. Refrigerated, tamarind keeps forever. If you can only find paste, or prefer it, use one tablespoon for this recipe, undiluted, and add one cup of water to the pan when adding the tamarind paste and sugar.

Palm sugar is sold in small bags in the International Food aisles or Asian food sections of good markets, Asian markets, or online. Henry’s recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of brown sugar for 8 eggs; I used a tiny amount of palm sugar–about a 1/4 teaspoon. This is personal preference; Thai cuisine balances hot, sour, salty, and sweet tastes, so taste and balance to your liking. Palm sugar is easily broken with a sharp knife, just be careful.

This seems like a lot of fried shallot for one person–until you taste it. Then it seems like not enough.

The original recipe also calls for fresh hot red peppers and sprinkling fresh chopped cilantro. If you have these ingredients to hand, by all means use them.

Hardboiled eggs keep, refrigerated, up to one week. Cooked rice keeps two days, refrigerated. Fried shallots keep up to one week, refrigerated.

The sauce will keep overnight, refrigerated, but is best eaten immediately.