In an earlier recipe I once called deviled eggs “angel eggs,” because there seems nothing devilish about this creation other than the sudden and rude impulse one might have to squander several from the appetizer plate, saving little room for the main course.
When Tamar Adler writes of eggs in An Everlasting Meal, she awakens my second cardinal rule: quality ingredients are always forgiving. In Chapter Two - How to Teach an Egg to Fly – she begins, “First, an egg is not an egg is not an egg. I don’t know what to call the things that are produced by hens crowded into dirty cages, their beaks snipped, tricked into laying constantly [...] Eggs should be laid by chickens that have as much of a say in it as any of us about egg laying does. Their yolks should, depending on the time of year, range from buttercup yellow to marigold. They should come from as nearby as possible.We don’t all live near cattle ranches, but most of us live surprisingly close to someone raising chickens for eggs.”
You will understand exactly what Tamar means when you have the pleasure of cooking with and eating a fresh egg, laid by pasture-raised hens allowed to peck in the grass and preen in the sunlight. The yolks stand up like firm breasts, rich in color and nutrition. Even more satisfying are the Easter-like green, blue and speckled eggs laid by heirloom chickens. During my remarkable stint at Millstone Farm, I marveled at the natural beauties that came in from the coop at sunrise and dusk.
Tamar continues, “Boiled eggs are almost as underappreciated as boiling water [...] I don’t know why we make it so difficult. Perhaps we can’t bear the simplicity of it.” Of course, she’s right! Boiling an egg requires just a small “moment of consideration” and gives birth to favorite dishes: egg salad, nicoise salad, cobb salad, thick slabs of toasted bread with butter and boiled egg, a friendly surprise in a bowl of cold soup, and the classic hor d’oeuvres – deviled eggs.
When I seek comfort in food, I choose between two meals. The first choice is usually Mamma’s pasta, laden with raw, seeded cubes of tomato resting in heaps of crushed garlic and a pool of extra virgin olive oil. The sauce is later seasoned with salt to be sure the tomatoes don’t sag in their freshly cut youth. The whole affair is sealed together with blobs of fresh mozzarella when the pasta is still in the mood for melting, and brightened last with hand-torn basil from the garden.
The second choice is a deep bowl of rice noodles, topped with a quick saute of farm-fresh veggies, a pile of kimchi and an egg, sunny-side up. I prod the yolk to open and mingle with the layers of flavor beneath. This variation of deviled eggs was inspired by this comfort combination, borrowing the basil from my Italian roots and adding toasted sesame for a fine crunch to support the creamy yolk. Make homemade kimchi ahead of time, or find a good batch at your local Asian market.
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- Eggs - 12 large, farm-fresh
- Kimchi - 10 tablespoons, finely minced
- Greek yogurt - 4 tablespoons plain
- Sesame oil - 4 teaspoons
- Sriracha sauce (optional but recommended) - 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or your favorite hot sauce
- Sea salt - 1/2 teaspoon coarse
- Sesame seeds - 2 tablespoons, toasted
- Paprika - Paprika to garnish
- Chives or Basil - Minced chives or basil to garnish (for brightest color and aroma, mince just before garnishing)
- Place the eggs in a medium pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the timer beeps, drain the eggs and transfer them to a bowl of ice water. One by one, peel the eggs. Rinse away any clinging pieces of shell.
- Use a pairing knife to slice around the belly of an egg, splitting it in half. Use a spoon or your thumbs to pop out the yolk into a medium bowl. Place the hollowed, hard egg whites on a serving platter. Repeat with all eggs.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the yolks and whip together with a fork. The yolk mixture should be creamy and tangerine orange.
- For neater presentation, transfer the yolk mixture into a pastry bag - or a Ziplock bag with a corner snipped off - and squeeze it into the cup of each egg half. Otherwise, use a small spoon to reunite plentiful scoops of yolk with their whites.
- Once the deviled eggs are lined up and loaded, sprinkle them lavishly with toasted sesame seeds. a dusting of paprika and minced herbs.