I frequently make some food for Jan’s Ethno Breakfast. For the last one I had made a dozen curried deviled eggs, that apparently disappeared in the first few minutes of the event. They went over so well that when one of Jan’s Chinese students came to dinner, I did a variation of those deviled eggs. Jan told me that she was expecting 30 ethnographers to show up to this month’s event. She asked me to make 24 dozen—48 half eggs—because they were so popular last time.
Many people have difficulty peeling eggs after they have been boiled. Bits of the white stick to the membrane leaving you with pock marked eggs. There are several tricks to pay attention to while preparing your eggs.
First—if you can—buy your eggs the week before, so that they can be properly “aged.” The whites of fresh eggs are more firmly attached to the membrane. As the eggs get older, this bond breaks down.
Second, steam your eggs, rather than boiling them. When eggs are submerged, the water at the top of the egg may be cooler than the water closest to the heat at the bottom of the egg. By putting the egg on a rack—out of the water—the eggs are surrounded by steam at exactly 212° F. This allows them to cook evenly at a known temperature.
A third trick is to shock and completely cool the eggs. Quick cooling causes the shells to suddenly contract which pulls the membrane away from the egg white. Cooling the egg completely gives the whites time to firm up and makes them less likely to break apart as you are pulling the shell away.
Karl’s Curried Deviled Eggs with Chives for a Crowd
24+ eggs (preferably a week old, see above)
4+ Tb. chives, minced
2 Tbs. Madras curry powder
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper, course ground
4 Tbs. Japanese mayonnaise
¼ cup half and half
½ small red bell pepper
1. Put a wire rack in a large pot and add about an inch of water.
Tip: You want the water no higher than the height of your wire rack.
Note: I have a round wire rack that came with a wok that fits my Western pot perfectly. You can buy these separately in some large Asian stores.
2. Bring the water to a boil and then add the cold eggs.
Tip: Always add an extra 4-5 eggs, in case you get a “blowout” or one doesn’t peel easily.
Note: By adding the eggs after the water boils, you are controlling the exact cooking time of the eggs, preventing over cooking—which will give you a gray layer on the surface of the yolk.
3. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low.
Tip: You want your water to continue steaming, but you do not want it to boil away.
4. Steam the eggs for exactly 15 minutes—for large eggs.
Tip: Steam small eggs for 14 minutes and extra large eggs for 17 minutes.
5. Prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice.
6. When the eggs are done steaming, transfer them to the ice water for 10 minutes.
Tip: This shocking pulls the membrane away from the whites and causes the egg to fill the “dimple.”
Note: When you slowly cool an egg, the air bubble at the large end of the egg is filled with steam and creates a dimple at one end of the egg as the white firms up. The cold water quickly chills and condenses the steam and allows the still soft egg white to push into this space, making a smoother, uniform egg.
7. Remove the eggs from the water and move them to the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Tip: The firmer the egg white is, the less likely it is to break as you peel off the shell.
8. Cut each egg in half on the long axis.
Tip: Hold the half egg gently by the thick white ends and press the back of the egg to pop the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. remove any yolk remaining in the hole.
Note: Lay the egg half—hole side up—on a paper towel to keep it from sliding around.
9. Use a fork to mash the egg yolks into a fine powdery mass.
Tip: It is easier to catch any hard lumps of yolk before you start adding other ingredients, rather than trying to chase them around in a slurry. You do not want any lumps larger than about half the size of a pea.
10. Mix the chives, curry powder, salt, and pepper to the powdery yolks and mix them in with the fork.
Tip: It is easier to get a good distribution of the dry additives throughout the dry powdery yolks, if you do it before adding the wet ingredients.
11. Stir the mayonnaise into the egg yolks.
Tip: Add as much mayonnaise as needed to moisten all of the dry yolk.
Note: This mixture will be still be very thick and sticky.
12. Adding the cream—a little bit at a time—whisk the mixture until has your desired consistency.
Tip: Depending on how large the individual yolks were you may need to add more cream. Do not add too much cream. You want a light and fluffy filling, not a wet sludge.
Note: For 2 dozen egg yolks you may use an electric blender once you add the moist ingredients. While the yolks are still dry the blender with splatter them all over the place.
13. Spoon the filling into the holes of the half eggs and arrange them on your serving platter.
Tip: You will have enough filling to be generous in filling the eggs. The filling should hump up above the cut edge of the half egg by at least a quarter inch.
Note: If you do not have a deviled egg plate—with egg shaped indentations to keep the eggs from sliding around—it is useful to lay down a sheet of paper towel on the serving platter.
14. Cut the bell pepper—pole to pole—into half inch wide strips.
15. Cut the pepper strips—on the bias—into diamond shapes.
16. Place one red pepper diamond on each deviled egg.
Note: In addition to being a garnish, the red peppers keep the plastic wrap from squishing and smearing the filling.
17. Garnish the eggs with the remaining chives and serve.
Tip: If you are making these ahead, or transporting them to serve elsewhere, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.