egg sambal (malaysian spicy eggs)

egg sambal
I don't have a bucket list. If I did, it would be more likely to be a big, fat cauldron - a list of fabulous things that I must eat or cook before I die. Recently I cooked something that I can now cross off my cauldron list, one that I would suggest everyone should try at least once. If you have never experienced deep-fried hard-boiled eggs, you really haven't lived.

This is one of those recipes that seems to have bounced around the Far East. Malaysia got it from Indonesia. The Indonesians probably got it from Thailand - who were most likely influenced by Chinese cooking.

In Thailand this recipe is known as Son-in-Law Eggs. It is alleged that mothers-in-law serve this up to prospective sons-in-law as a reminder of what might happen if they fail their wives . . . unlikely but rather funny. (Personally, I don't think Thai mothers would be quite that rude.) I think it is more likely that it is a symbol of fertility and other things egg-shaped that men tend to value quite highly!

Either way, sweet and sour egg sambal (sambal telur) is delicious. Who knew that deep-frying a hard-boiled egg (so that the outside becomes bubbly and crisp) and then serving it with a spicy sauce could be so amazing? I didn't but now I have seen the light.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy but messy (the oil tends to splutter quite a bit!)

vegetable oil for deep-frying
8 hard-boiled eggs
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp palm sugar
2 tbsp ketjap manis (or dark soy sauce)
half tsp tamarind paste or juice of 1 lime
fresh coriander and mint, chopped (to serve)
1 stalk of lemongrass
4-5 red chillies, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tsp belacan (shrimp paste)


  1. Whizz the paste ingredients up in a blender. (Add a splash of water if the paste is very stiff).
  2. Deep fry the hard-boiled eggs until lightly browned. (The outside of the eggs will become slightly bobbly.)
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan. Add the paste and fry gently for 1 minute or so until begins to colour and releases its fragrance.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and tamarind paste or lime juice. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the soy sauce and a splash of water if very thick.
  6. Add the deep-fried eggs and stir well to coat.
  7. Serve immediately with a few chopped herbs.


Kavey said...

I first had this dish last year at Janetira Thai, and I've been back and had it a couple more times since. Their sauce is a tamarind-based one but I like the look of this one too.

So so so good!

Josephine Whitaker said...

This looks delicious! I lived in Bangladesh a few years ago, and this was one of my favourite Bengali (or so I thought!) dishes. It's so exciting to find a simple, straightforward recipe for a dish most people think I'm a bit crazy to like!