One of the benefits of Easter is leftover hard boiled eggs that must be used up quickly. By itself, a plain boiled egg is a bit dry. The solution is to “devil” the dry yoke by mixing it with a wide variety of things.
“Devil” in this case was first used in 1789 to imply the spicy nature of the additions. These additions usually include: a moist sauce, like mayonnaise or mustard, some kind of vegetables or meats, and some spices. What you may add is limited only by your imagination.
I usually use a non-fat mayonnaise as my moistener. With Jan’s diet we keen no other kind in the house. Mayonnaise is also bland enough that it does not mask the flavors of the other additions.
As I was looking in my refrigerator looking for additions to my eggs, I spotted a half used package of Sichuan pickle (榨菜; zhà cài). I have loved Sichuan pickle since we lived in Chengdu in the ‘80s. My Chinese friends were amused by this, because even in China only the Sichuanese are supposed to like it. I like it straight out of the package and I usually keep a package or two on hand to throw into a stir-fry to spice things up.
Sichuan pickle pairs well with fresh green onion. If you are going to go Sichuan, Sichuan pepper is the obvious spice. With my ingredients selected it was time to mix and eat.
Note: Jan’s diet keeps her away from eating more than one egg a day. As a result, I tend to make deviled eggs just for myself. This recipe is for making just two deviled eggs. In the brackets (), I have included the measurements for making a dozen deviled eggs.
Karl’s Deviled Eggs Sichuan
2 boiled eggs (12)
1 Tbs. mayonnaise (½ cup)
½ Tbs. Sichuan pickle, minced (¼ cup)
1 tsp. green onion, green part only, minced (2 Tbs.)
Pinch of Szechuan Salt & Pepper (1 tsp.)
1. Peel the eggs under running water and slice them in half on the long axis.
Tip: I do not “boil” my eggs any more. A few issues ago, Cook’s Illustrated had an article about how to make the perfect boiled eggs. The author had discovered that there was no way to “boil” an egg with any predictability, it would always come out either over or under cooked. The solution was to take the eggs out of the water. By steaming the eggs for ten minutes the whites are firm and the yoke is perfectly yellow, with no dark discoloration on the outer surface of the yoke.
2. “Pop” the yokes into a bowl and mash them thoroughly with a fork.
Tip: Press the back of the egg with your thumb and the yolk will just fall into the bowl.
Note: You do not want any dry lumps of yoke in your filling. By mashing the yokes dry it is easy to tell when you have broken up all of the lumps.
3. Add the mayonnaise, Sichuan pickle, and green onion to the bowl and mix well.
4. Spoon the filling into the holes left by the yokes.
Tip: Some cooks “pipe” the filling in into the holes (put the filling in a plastic bag and squeeze it through a hole cut in one corner). While this may make for a more decorative egg, it just seems way too fussy for me.
5. Sprinkle a bit of Szechuan salt & pepper on each egg.
Note: I am using a spice mix that Jan bought me. Some fresh ground Sichuan pepper mixed with salt will work as well. For a discussion on the variations in the spelling of Sichuan, see Karl’s Szechuan Shrimp.