Thursday, April 5, 2012

Son-in-law eggs with Chilli Caramel

Easter is coming up and people around me are excited about the array of Easter eggs on offer during this time of the year, especially Cadbury Crème Eggs. A Cadbury Crème Egg is supposed to mimic a real egg, filled with a creamy white fondant and a little yellow fondant to resemble the yolk. I’m not really a fan of Cadbury Crème Eggs as I find it too sweet but I get how it can excite people as you bite into it, and the insides flow out like an avalanche, it can be uncontrollable and you try to eat it without it getting everywhere and ending up in a sticky mess.

If like me, you are not that into Cadbury Crème Eggs but want to enjoy a similar egg flowing experience this Easter I suggest making son-in-law eggs as an alternative. It’s brown on the outside and white on the inside with a yellow filling that oozes out and can be as tricky to eat as a Cadbury Crème Egg, you want to be careful that you don’t have egg yolk running down your chin or the chilli caramel sauce dripping onto your shirt.

Son-in-law eggs are a Thai dish and urban legend has it that it came about because:
(a) mother-in-law made these eggs for son-in-law as a message to behave and be kind to his wife or else she might be frying up some of his ball shaped bits…
(b) son-in-law tries to impress mother-in-law and this was all be could manage to cook with the ingredients he found in the house.
Whatever the story may be, this is a damn tasty dish.

Last weekend I made son-in-law eggs for the first time. Although a lot of recipes used hard boiled eggs, I wanted the soft boiled egg result for an oozing yolk experience. I wanted a method that would give me a perfect result every time and when I came across Heston’s tips for cooking with eggs and his recipe for soft boiled eggs, I decided to try his way. So Heston’s secret to a perfect boiled egg is to not boil it, just bring the eggs to the boil and then take the pan off the heat, and leave the eggs to cook in the residual heat for a few minutes. I’ve tried this method and happy to report that I get soft flowing yolks every time.

After reading a number of different recipes for the sauce that goes with the son-in-law eggs, I found that it was generally a mixture of sugar, fish sauce and tamarind. I made up my own sauce, starting with a caramel sauce that I often use in Vietnamese cooking where I heat sugar until it liquefies and then add in fish sauce. Then I added in some chillies for heat and adjusted the balance of flavours by adding in tamarind puree and more sugar to taste.

Often herbs just appear to be a garnish, to make a dish look pretty and not so brown. The chilli caramel sauce is quite pungent and it really makes a difference when you consume a mouthful with some herbs as it help cut through the richness.

Cadbury Crème Eggs versus Son-in-law eggs? The Thai’s may say “same, same but different”. But I know which one I prefer.

Son-in-law eggs with Chilli Caramel 


•    Eggs (soft boiled)
•    Vegetable oil for deep frying
•    Coriander for garnish (Thai basil and mint can also be used)
Chilli Caramel Sauce
•    1/3 cup white sugar
•    ¼ cup fish sauce
•    2 tablespoons tamarind puree
•    2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
•    4 red bird’s eye chillies, seeded and sliced (or more if you want the sauce to be hotter)


Soft boiled eggs (adapted from Heston)

Put eggs in a pan with enough cold water to cover the eggs by 3cm, cover the pan with a lid and place over high heat. Once the water comes to boil, remove the pan from the heat and allow to stand for 3 minutes, the residual heat will cook the eggs gently, leaving the yolk nicely cooked but still runny. After the 3 minutes, transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with cold water and ice to stop the cooking process and leave to cool for 10 minutes. 

Gently peel the eggs, I held the egg in one hand and used a spoon to gently tap the shell to crack it and then peeled it off.

Chilli caramel sauce (my concoction)

Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, swirling the pan from time to time until the sugar liquefies and becomes brown and caramelized (be careful that you don’t let the sugar go too dark brown or it will burn and you’ll get a bitter taste, I actually burnt my first batch of caramel and threw it out). Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the fish sauce (it will smoke and bubble vigorously). 

 (Sugar liquefying and bubbling away into caramel)
 (Adding in the fish sauce into the liquefied sugar makes it smoke and bubble vigorously)
(The bubbling will eventually settle down and you will get a caramel sauce)
(caramel sauce)

Return the sugar/fish sauce mixture to low heat and gently simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chillies in and take the sauce pan off the heat, then add in the tamarind and palm sugar to adjust the balance of flavours to desired taste.

I poured the mixture into a microwaveable bowl, as it sits the mixture will thicken and become solid so when I’m about to use it to coat the eggs I will zap it for 30 seconds in the microwave first to liquefy.

Son-in-law eggs

Heat oil in a saucepan to 180C, then add in the soft boiled eggs and fry until golden and blistered on the outside. Drain on a paper towel.

Then I used a pair of small tongs to turn the fried egg around in the chilli caramel to coat.

(The chilli caramel has a lovely dark brown colour like chocolate)

Serve the son-in-law eggs garnished with your herb of choice. I used coriander. You can also scatter over the top fried shallots.


  1. These look gorgeous! I agree with you in that Creme Eggs are a bit too sweet and prefer the savoury optiojs. I've never had eggs this way before or even tried a chili caramel sauce!

    1. Thanks Carolanne, chilli caramel is also great for fish and pork.

  2. Replies
    1. Yeah it's not the usual French style caramel that most people would be familiar with!

  3. Wow! I have never heard of these, they sound and look amazing! I've tried making Heston's boiled eggs a few times and they just never seem to work for me. The first time they were overcooked, the next time they were I cut the time down from six minutes (as I saw you did) to three. The problem was they were undercooked as they were extra large eggs!

    1. Thanks Bec :) I think the key is three minutes and I used large sized eggs but I had to be really careful when peeling them as they were very fragile.