You can certainly find a good eatery by nose, or, around these foggy parts, by the number of people standing in line, so it’s no surprise that eventually I would associate standing in line as part of the tradition of great Burmese food. I think a lot of San Franciscans are usually standing in line for food, for coffee… but me, I am usually running away from those hungry lines. My stomach is not patient enough and especially not full enough. Somehow, Burma’s Burmese food made a patient eater out of me. I willingly stand in their line and tolerate their insidious fog. No doubt there’s a better way to get Burmese food, but Burma Superstar is the best and is worth the worst bits of foggy wind licking at my neck. Since I have tropical blood, I pipe their free, hot tea into my throat at a furious rate, especially if I am not wearing mittens.
If you read 101Cookbooks, you will know that I’m not the first to sing the praises for Burma Superstar, and I certainly will not be the last judging by their perpetually long lines which were reduced by exactly zero hungry eaters, despite a recent nearly harmless food poisoning incident not very long after I introduced some friends to this place and their excellent egg and okra curry. I think that particular feast included their famous coconut rice, their colorful rainbow salad with 22 different crunchy ingredients, and their pea sprouts, tenderly sautéed with something delightful and possibly addictive. I could recite their vegetarian and vegan friendly options all day, but the saliva coming out of me would cause a an awkward drowning. Drowning from food-lust? That’s my fate. This curry recipe hunt sprang from my love for Burmese okra egg curry, but also from my lack of patience for long lines and my profound ability to lose mittens. Of course this recipe I found is not as good as their’s, but it’s damn close and I get to eat it as often as I can get fresh okra, which means at least once every other week during summer months.
I’m bummed because there’s zero chance of me eating fresh okras again until next year: I literally picked these okra bits from the bottom of the saddest, smallest pile of okras in my history of making okra curry. I salted this curry with my lack-of-okra autumn tears. I am sending it to my recipe archive via blog, because my pea brain will not remember where I placed my recipe bits by summer of next year, which is coming very soon, according to okra lovers everywhere. Another reason why I am sharing this recipe is because of this: egg pain. Every time I made, and subsequently ate this curry, it would make me, in the most polite term, bloated. You can read between the lines. After talking to my friend Britt about the unpleasant potency of hing and not wanting to hunt for Indian grocery stores, I decided to try egg curry with quail eggs.
The lore goes something like, every minute of egg cooking adds another hour of egg digestion. I suspected that the recipe’s double cooking process for eggs was making my stomach irritated and impolite, and duck eggs were even bigger than the chicken eggs I used! Unfortunately, I’m terrible at peeling quail eggs, but at the very least they cook in a jiffy. Plus, they look like mini-dinosaur eggs that forgot to hatch. This curry requires quite a bit of quail eggs (20). If your tiny fingers are more dexterous than mine, you won’t have a problem. You’re probably thinking 20 is a very large number of eggs, but it’s not. Quail eggs are the size of an oversized pebble so each package comes with only 10 teensy eggs. You will want at least 20. Maybe even 30 or 40, but that’s a lot of patience, peeling, and counting. Asian grocery stores have cans of quail eggs in water, but I’ve never ventured to try them, for obvious reasons.
Another benefit to using quail eggs for this curry is that you can use less oil to deep fry the eggs. If eggs are not fully submerged for frying, you can get a lot of popping, which is messy and dangerous. I like to keep danger out of the kitchen as much as possible. The deep frying happens really quickly for quail eggs and they add a chewy skin that’s unusual and fun, but you don’t have to if healthy food is important. I’ve given up eating meat so I often indulge in a lot of deep fried foods while munching on kale. Burma Superstar serves their chicken eggs without this extra oily step and it’s just as nice.
When I was in China, I ate the spiciest deep fried quail eggs in human history – they were boiled then strung onto skewers that were dropped into a cauldron of fire and brimstone seasoned with Szechuan peppers. It made a fire breathing dragon of my ears, but I loved it. Unfortunately, I am terrible at peeling quail eggs and have no desire to make a fuss out of cooking quail eggs outside of this curry, so if you want the best fried quail eggs, find a pot of oil from Sichuan.
I must also add that quail eggs are more nutritious than chicken eggs and tend to be safer if consumed raw, like in Japanese cuisine.
Burmese Okra & Quail Egg Curry, Adapted from Allegra McEvedy’s Duck Egg Curry If anyone from Burma is reading, I just want you to know that one curry order of 1 egg in halves does not share easily between four. I would like 2 chicken eggs. Please.
20 quail eggs, or more if you want to peel them (Use deep fried tofu, if you’re vegan, they are just as good without the belly aches)
cilantro, coarsely chopped for garnish
steamed rice, or coconut rice (I usually make this first)
3 tb peanut oil
2 red onions, sliced
2 fresh red thai chilies, sliced (optional)
1 tb grated fresh garlic
1 ts grated fresh ginger
1/2 ts tumeric
1 tb curry powder
2 cups of whole, fresh baby okras no larger than a small thumb (alternatively, you can use frozen ones, you’ll need around 8 oz)
1 c of halved cherry tomatoes (The original recipe also uses 1.5 tb of tomato puree, which I usually omit because I usually don’t have it)
+ Start by boiling quail eggs for 3 minutes, then peeling, then deep frying them until they are a light golden brown. + Use this oil to fry your shallots if doing so.
+ In a wok, with oil, fry the onions with tumeric, chilies, garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes, tossing them regularly. Next, add tomato puree if using.
+ Then add okra and fresh tomatoes, then veggie fish sauce. If not using fish sauce, salt to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring a bit to prevent burning.
+ Add the eggs to the mix and toss to season, cooking for an additional minute.
+ Allow to sit for 3 minutes prior to serving.
+ Garnish with shallots and cilantro.
* Vegetarian fish sauce is convenient to cook with, but is not like the real thing at all. Which, is good, if you know what to expect. Just don’t give it to anyone who likes the real stuff.
ps: I found a recipe for tea leaf salad, would be perfect with this recipe – but I have too many pumpkin/fall things to share first. Sorry… you can wait right?
pps: I know, where’re all the pumpkins?? I’ve been eating/testing pumpkin & chive spaetzle and barley stew with pumpkin dumplings so I can’t wait to share it. Unfortunately, I need to actually take photos, put it to words … I am so so utterly slow, so thanks for being patient while I indulge in the very absolute last post about summer veggies this year. I am wearing nothing but fleece all week, so it’s time to give summer a rest.