Friday, December 25, 2015

Burmese sour egg curry or Bae-Ou-Chin-Hin

If I were to die in minutes and given an opportunity to enjoy a quick GIF of my life, my state school lunchtime flask backs would be me praying that I had this sour egg curry or bae-ou-chin-hin for lunch. Growing up I was addicted to eggs, both from gustatory and exploratory mindset. I remember my eight-year-old self playing with a pan, charcoal stove and a couple of eggs just to be mesmerized by how quickly the egg white changed from completely translucent gel into the flabby opaque coagulated paint. As much as I loved whites for my own curiosity sake, I was a die-hard fan for those almost fudgy egg yolks of perfectly boiled eggs in the egg curry (I know. I am gustatorily gifted as a child). My brother weirdly have moments where he preferred egg whites, so I would try to persuade him to trade my egg whites for his egg yolks. Sometimes, I succeed, and but most of the time, I just had to be content with one yolk and one white. Well, that’s what life is. You move on.

Burmese sour egg curry or Bae-Ou-Chin-Hin

Traditionally, duck eggs are used for this dish, which are hard to come by in the United States. But, a few days ago, when I stopped by at an Asian supermarket to buy something for a potluck party, I stumbled upon some duck eggs. They were gorgeously white as I remembered, and I was ecstatic to make this Burmese egg sour curry. Of course, you can substitute duck eggs with chicken eggs in this recipe. However, I personally prefer to the former because they taste robustly egg-y enough to stand against bold flavors from the curry sauce. Moreover, the unyielding texture of egg whites from boiled duck eggs makes a perfect nidus to crisp up during the frying stage.

The curry sauce for this egg dish is a simple affair.  Yes, I have used the same method in almost every curry dish I posted, but this technique is the most fundamental step in Burmese cooking that I won’t apologize for recycling. Basically, onion and tomato bits are braised slowly in turmeric and paprika-stained oil until they turn into runny mush. The watery paste is then flavored heavily with fish sauce until the dish starts singing the Myanmar National Anthem. I have to say one thing special about this curry is that the sourness from the tomato is harmoniously enhanced by tamarind. If you don’t know what tamarind is, this dish is a great way for you to get acquainted with probably one of the most underrated ingredients. Tamarind has this sour-yet-toffee-like quality that it almost reminds me of pomegranate molasses. However, unlike the attention-craving sticky counterpart, tamarind plays the background note very well. Especially in this dish, the mild pungency of tamarind pairs greatly with fattiness of the egg yolks.

Every time, I make this dish. I am just appalled by how something this simple can be packed with that much complex flavor and texture. The crunchiness from the fried egg whites, with their crevices as mini reservoirs for sour sauces to dwell in, is contrasted beautifully with the sticky smooth yolk. Now I feel like I am also getting wiser with age. I am neither pro-yolk nor anti-white. I am a proud equal opportunity feeder, who ultimately finds delights in contrast and balance. No more trading eggs with you, brother.

Burmese sour egg curry or Bae-Ou-Chin-Hin

4 duck eggs (or jumbo chicken eggs)
1/3 cup of peanut oil
¼ teaspoon of turmeric
½ medium yellow onion, minced
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
2 medium tomatoes (pureed with food processor)
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
2 green chilies, minced (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate (optional)
Cilantro for garnish
Some water to thin out if necessary
salt to taste

The success of this recipe depends on how perfectly you can boil eggs. What I do is I find the largest pot I have. Fill it with water, and bring the water to a boil along with the eggs. When water reaches a boil, turn off the burner, but leave the pot on the burner for another 20 minutes. The eggs will get cooked very gently and most of the time, I get rewarded with bouncy opaque white jello on the outside, and soft yet firm golden fudge on the inside – no more chalky yellow powder that I get from gas-station eggs.

The rest is rather straightforward. Heat up 1/3 cup of oil in a non-stick pan. You want the oil to be hot, but not smoking. Test by flicking a few water drops into the oil. If the water gets splattered maniacally as soon as it touches the oil, go ahead and add the turmeric powder. Stir to dissolve the gorgeously yellow food dye. Then, add in the boiled eggs, and fry until the outsides crisp up and begin to look like deformed tumors. The egg whites like to stick. That’s what they do, and there is no way around it. If they do, de-gunk them by slowly-yet-firmly scraping the base of the egg, with the spatula angling downward towards the pan. If you try to wobble from the top, you will just end up tearing the bottom flesh.

Drain the egg, and set aside. Take out about 2 tablespoons of oil. In the remaining oil, throw in garlic, onions and paprika. Cook under medium heat until onions become translucent. Add in tomato puree, tamarind concentrate and minced chili. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook under low heat for about 15-minutes until the oil starts to develop on top. In the meantime, halve the eggs.

Add in fish sauce, and brown sugar. Taste and add salt accordingly. Pour the mixture over the eggs, making sure that each half is coated generously. The sauce should be runny. If you feel like yours is dry, adjust by adding water. Garnish with cilantro.


  1. Wow this looks really good and unique! Can't wait to try it.

  2. This looks so unique and tasty! Very cool photos too.

  3. This sounds so good! I want to try it for sure!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. Yes, this is my favorite way to eat eggs :D Let me know how it turns out.

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  5. This sounds delicious! We have ducks so I am going to put this on our "new menu plan to try" this month! Thanks!

    1. Wow yes, if you have duck eggs, please try this recipe :D

  6. Your images are gorgeous! Can't wait to try this one day!

  7. Can you just cook and send it to me please ? I miss that cuisine so badly. :(

  8. Hi Soe Thein,

    Saw your blog name from 196 flavours.In India also ( Kolkata ) we make egg gravy in this way but we do not add tamarind and fish sauce.I have prepared egg sambal which is again little different.In Sothern India they use tamarind.I also love trying cuisines from various countries.We used to stay near Irvine, Montebello CA now shifted from CA .All the Best.