You can up the ante and use duck eggs in this dish, which are rich and delicious. I also like fried eggs with XO sauce or oyster sauce, or try nuoc cham dipping sauce as a dressing for a Vietnamese feel.
- 2 large free-range or organic eggs
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 2 French shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 small handful combined mint, coriander (cilantro) and Thai basil leaves
- 1 long fresh red chilli, halved, seeded and chopped
- 3 wild green chillies (available from Asian grocers), chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 coriander (cilantro) roots, scraped and chopped
- 1½ tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
- 1½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 1½ tablespoons lime juice
- 1½ tablespoons tamarind water
To make tamarind water, break off 240 g (8½ oz) of tamarind pulp, soak in 375 ml (13 fl oz/1½ cups) boiling water for 20 minutes, mash and then push through a sieve.
To make the dressing, pound the chillies, garlic, coriander roots and sugar in a mortar with a pestle to a fine paste. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind water, then taste to check for balance.
Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fryer until just starting to smoke, about 180ºC (350ºF). Carefully crack the eggs into a bowl and then gently pour the whole eggs into the hot oil. Use a large spoon to ladle some of the hot oil over the top of the eggs until they are golden brown all over. Remove the eggs from the oil, drain on paper towel and transfer to a serving plate.
Allow the oil to cool a little, then fry one of the sliced shallots until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Mix the herbs and both the fresh and fried shallots in a bowl and moisten with some of the dressing. Sprinkle the herb salad over the eggs, then drizzle with the remaining dressing to serve.