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Son-In-Law Eggs for My First #LetsLunch

What a treat and an honor to join the #LetsLunch folks for the first time. Eggs symbolize beginnings, so I’m taking this theme a little bit personally, since I am lunching with you for the first time. I cooked us up a batch of Son-In-Law Eggs, a traditional Thai with-rice dish. It’s a party dish beloved throughout Thailand. During my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Northeastern Thailand, I encountered them at weddings, ordination ceremonies for young men becoming Buddhist monks, and other celebrations, whenever the accent was on special treats rather than everyday fare.

In my small upcountry town of Thatoom in Surin Province (on the Cambodian border between Korat and Ubol Rachathanii), duck eggs enjoyed most-favored-egg status, as they were more common, less expensive, and endowed with a rich, deep flavor and color appreciated by all. Recently I’ve seen duck eggs on sale at Whole Foods Market, and I look forward to using them for my next batch of Son-In-Law Eggs. Chicken eggs work wonderfully as well. Typically, Son-In-Law Eggs are served whole, drenched with an irresistible tamarind sauce, sweetened with palm sugar and sharpened with fish sauce. I also love them  halved, served over a pool of sauce and sprinkled with some sauce and the tasty garnishes of crispy shallots, crispy garlic, and cilantro. To make them finger food, you could serve each half in lettuce cups, with garlic and shallots sprinkled over it and sauce on the side to be spooned on by each eater.

Nancie’s “Real Thai” Son-In-Law Eggs

Son-In-Law Eggs make a fine addition to an Asian-style rice-centered meal, as well as an alternative to deviled eggs for a picnic, potluck, or brunch feast. You can make the sauce in advance, covering and refrigerating it for a day or two, as long as you let it warm up gently and serve it at room temperature. The eggs look crispy, thanks to their deep-fried status, but in fact they come out chewy and multi-textured, perfect for delivering richness enrobed in the sweet-salty-tangy tamarind sauce.

Tamarind Sauce

1/3 cup tamarind liquid (see recipe*)

1/4 cup palm sugar or brown sugar

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons water


Fresh cilantro leaves

Coarsely ground dried red chili flakes


6 eggs, hard-cooked and shelled

6 small shallots, thinly sliced crosswise and separated into rings (1/3 cup)

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise (1/4 cup)

Vegetable oil for frying in wok or small deep saucepan (3 to 4 cups)

To make the sauce, combine the tamarind liquid, palm sugar, fish sauce, and water in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a lively boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce is smooth and about as thick as maple syrup. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

To make the eggs, pour the oil in a wok or deep heavy skillet to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium to medium-high heat, until a bit of shallot floats and sizzles wildly at once, (a temperature of 350 to 375 degrees F). If the eggs are wet, pat them dry with a paper towel. Line a medium bowl with paper towels and place it by the stove.

Gently slide 3 of the eggs down the side of the wok or pan, or lower them into the hot oil with a slotted spoon. Using a spatula or slotted spoon, move them gently around to keep them from resting on the bottom. Turn and cook until the eggs are golden brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in the paper-towel-lined bowl. Repeat with remaining eggs.

To fry the shallots and garlic, let the hot oil return to good frying temperature. A bit of shallot should float and sizzle wildly at once. Have 2 paper towel-lined plates by the stove, along with a slotted spoon or a fine mesh strainer for getting the garnishes out quickly. Scatter the shallots over the hot oil in the wok, and quickly and gently turn them to help them separate and cook quickly and evenly. They will brown quickly. As soon as they are nicely but lightly browned, quickly scoop them out and onto one of the papertowel-lined plates.  Now scatter in the garlic and let it quickly cook in the same way, gently pushing clusters apart. Scoop out the garlic onto the other paper-towel lined plates. Then transfer each garnish to another papertowel to absorb more oil. Scatter on a clean platter and set aside to cool and dry.

To serve Son-In-Law Eggs

Carefully halve the eggs lengthwise, using a sharp or serrated knife. Pour the sauce onto a deep plate or a shallow bowl or a small platter, big enough to hold all the eggs. (Keep some aside if you like, to add at serving time.) Arrange the egg halves yolk-side up on the sauced plate. Sprinkle eggs with the fried shallots and garlic, and cilantro leaves and chilies if you are using them. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Traditionally these are served with rice and other dishes as part of a meal).

Serves 6 to 8

*Tamarind Liquid

1/4 cup tamarind pulp (makahm biak/wet tamarind, sold in blocks)

1/2 cup warm water

Place the tamarind pulp in a small bowl and add the warm water. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes, poking and mashing occasionally to break up the sticky lump and dissolve the luscious pulp.

Pour the tamarind pulp and water through a fine-mesh strainer, and use a spoon to mash the pulp against the strainer, extracting as much of the thick liquid/sauce as you can. Scrape off the bottom of the strainer to get every drop of the thick puree which will accumulate there. Discard the remaining pulp, fibers, and seeds. Thin a bit with water until the liquid is the consistency of heavy cream or split pea soup. Use as directed in recipes, or cover and refrigerate for a day or two. (

Makes about 1/2 cup

These recipes come from Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott, Chronicle Books 1992.  Copyright: Nancie McDermott  All rights reserved.

#LETSLUNCH is a movable, expandable, irresistible virtual feast!

Visit these excellent bloggers for eggs extraordinaire. And check back; more egg dishes to come…

– Ana‘s Breakfast Pizza at In Foodie Fashion

– Charissa‘s Gluten-Free Leek, Ham & Pecorino Souffles at Zest Bakery

– Denise‘s Beet Dye & Pink Deviled Eggs at Chez Us

– Eleanor‘s Medley of Eggs at Wok Star

– Emma‘s Eggs In A Hole at Dreaming of Pots & Pans

– Felicia‘s Perfect Sandwich at Burnt-Out Baker

– Grace‘s Scrambled Eggs & Tomatoes at HapaMama

– Joe‘s Kim-Chi Deviled Eggs at Joe Yonan

– Karen‘s Molecular Gastronomy “Eggs” at GeoFooding

– Leigh‘s Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls at Leigh Nannini

– Linda‘s Home-made Cadbury Eggs (Maple Chocolate Eggs) at Free Range Cookies

– Linda‘s Taiwanese Tomato Eggs at Spicebox Travels

– Lisa‘s Legendary Egg & Onion at Monday Morning Cooking Club

– Lucy‘s Old-Fashioned Boiled Dressing (& Chicken Salad) at A Cook And Her Books

– Nancie‘s Son-In-Law Eggs at Nancie McDermott

– Rashda‘s Bombay Toasts (Spicy French Toasts) at Hot Curries And Cold Beer

– Rebecca‘s Mini Meringue Buttons at Grongar Blog

– Vivian‘s Oeuf Chaud Froid at Vivian Pei

About the Author
Nancie McDermott is a food writer and cooking teacher, and the author of ten cookbooks. Her passion is researching and celebrating traditional food in its cultural context, and her beloved subjects are two seemingly different places with much in common: the cuisines of Asia and of the American South. Nancie gained her Southern kitchen wisdom as a Piedmont North Carolina native,and her Asian culinary research commenced soon after college, when she was sent to northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer.
  1. Pingback: Zest Bakery & Deli » Blog Archive gluten-free leek, ham, and pecorino souffles

  2. charissa (zest bakery) Reply

    I adore tamarind! I had a minor love affair with that ingredient while travelling around Asia. Thanks for contributing this to this month’s egg theme!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you, Charissa! I am so happy to be in this circle, and I love seeing everyone’s creations. I’m with you on tamarind. Remarkable flavor and this makes me think of using it broadly in my cooking. For so long I thought of it as a Thai Ingredient and now I’m realizing it’s another flavor and puzzle piece in the world of food.

  3. Lucy@acookandherbooks Reply

    These eggs look and sound absolutely lovely!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Much appreciated, Lucy. I loved making them; hadn’t done so in a while, because it’s a little more involved than my everyday cooking. But for a little extra hands-on time (and mess of dishes), shaZZZAAAMM!!! Such a tasty and beautiful reward. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words.

  4. Rashda/Mina Khan (@SpiceBites) Reply

    Congrats on your 1st #Letslunch post! You made my mouth water 😀
    Looking forward to future dishes & lunches with you!!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Thank you so much, Rashda! I meet you in the most wonderful places — IACP Austin writers’ workshop and now in this great crew. I love this already. To more virtual and eventually some actual real lunch visits and cooking sessions.

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  8. yukarisakamoto Reply

    Wow, a great new dish I’ve never seen before. Looks yummy. I need to pick up some tamarind pulp so I can try making this.

    At first when I saw your post I thought your eldest daughter got married!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Oh, Yukari-san, that is so funny. Of course, that makes perfect sense. You made my day. And no, no wedding banquets now or anytime soon, not hosting them anyway. Good to hear from you.

  9. Pingback: Mini Meringue Buttons « GrongarBlog

  10. spicebox travels Reply

    Hi Nancy, What a wonderful dish! I am a tamarind fiend so will definitely be trying this recipe. BTW I just learned how to make som tum at the CIA Greystone as part of the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives course– and realized it’s you’re recipe! Looking fwd to more #LetsLunches with you. -Linda

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Tamarind fiend: I did not have a word for it and now I do, if I may borrow your apt verbiage? It’s such an extraordinary flavor/ingredient, and it sashays off into savory just as quickly as to sweet. Thank you for letting me know about the som tum connection: I am beaming and doing a little spring tap dance over that news. Completely cool. That sounds like a great course to take. “See you…” at the next LetsLunch!

  11. Grace Hwang Lynch (@HapaMamaGrace) Reply

    Lucky son-in-law! I love simple egg dishes, and especially with the shallots and tamarind. Add me to the list of tamarind fiends! Glad to be “lunching” with you!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      You, too, Grace. I like your blog so much, and am pleased to be at the #LetsLunch table with all y’all. Thinking about my cross-culinary-cultural post for May, and so far, Undecided in NC. But it will come.

  12. Joe Yonan Reply

    Welcome to Let’s Lunch, Nancie! So fun to see you here. These look fantastic, btw. I’ve still got some duck eggs in the fridge from our runner ducks (which we sold, sadly), so I might just have to make these soon!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      Well, if the ducks flew the coop, but you’re left with a few duck eggs laying around (ahem! English majors don’t miss a THANG around here), this is your dish. Although deviled duck eggs could be quite fabulous as well. I’ll try that since I’ve got access to someone else’s duck…house? Blind? It’s Whole Foods, actually, I’m sure they get them from a worthy source. Your kimchi deviled eggs look fabulous. Since the deviled eggs of my childhood never had anything more devilish that a whisper of paprika, I’ve always wondered what some chili heat would do to an already semi-perfect food. I love Let’s Lunch, though I’m nowhere near deciding on my May contribution.

  13. Henrietta B. Reply

    I am loving (and stealing) that tamarind sauce recipe. I think it’s amazing that you immersed yourself in Thai culture as a volunteer, especially by paying close attention to their cuisine. Brilliant!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      So nice to read this; I thank you! As you can imagine, so much pleasure was and still is, mine, from that amazing experience.

  14. Marge Reply

    This looks wonderful! I bought Thai palm sugar for the first time last fall to brew a red ale. I am excited to finally have another use for palm sugar so I can make a dent in that giant tub!

    • Nancie McDermott Reply

      I know what you mean about ingredients that come in for a purpose and then languish on the pantry shelf. This is an exceptionally fine use for it. No other dish quite like it, and it’s especially fine for summertime eating. Fried is the very best because the texture gives the sauce a place to hang on; but for cool-kitchen temperature and speed, I love it with hardboiled eggs halved and not fried. In lettuce cups, picnic food!

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