Egg Belanda is a simple dish but packed with flavour, which is a description that can be used for many Malaysian dishes. It elevates the humble fried egg into something savoury, satisfying and moreish – something special for an already well-loved ingredient!
Eggs, especially fried eggs, are abundant in Malaysian cuisine. Known as ‘telur’ in the Malay language, you’ll find them cooked in sambal at Malay rice establishments, preserved and salted at rice porridge shops, rolled into a Roti Canai to make Roti Telur, and of course a ‘bullseye’ egg topping a bowl of Mee Goreng. Almost any dish you can think of would be better with a fried egg on the side, but this dish of Egg Belanda makes it the star of the dish instead of the supporting actor.
The word ‘Belanda’ relates to Holland in the Malay language, and must stem from the time that the Dutch ruled much of the country. What hand they had in the creation of the dish I cannot say, I was unable to find any similar dish in Dutch cuisine. The Nyonya folk must have thought the ingredient combinations were apt, and luckily for us the flavours pass the test of time. The fried eggs in Egg Belanda are nestled in a deep sweet and sour sauce created from tamarind and shallots, some of the ingredients that Nyonya cuisine uses as a backbone, with enough sugar to temper the sourness of the tamarind, and thickened with corn starch to improve the mouthfeel.
And, it’s very easy to make, when following the instructions below.
Ang Moh’s Egg Belanda Recipe
Serves 3, or 2 Malaysians
100g shallots, peeled and sliced into half rings
10g chopped garlic (around 5 cloves)
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
2 tbps tau cheong bean paste, hoisin sauce will do if desperate
4 tbsp sugar or to taste
1 tbps light soya sauce
6 tbsp tamarind paste
1 spring onion, sliced lengthways, for garnish
300 ml water
1 tbps corn starch mixed with 2 tbps warm water
Firstly, you must make a decision on whether you’re wanting to eat this dish straight away, or if you’ll be eating it later after preparing. If you’re eating straight away, I’d recommend frying your eggs as the first step to this dish. I cook my eggs ‘over-easy’, which means that you flip them over mid-way and fry them for a short while, so that the yolk is cooked, but still slightly runny in the middle. I find this better than a usual ‘sunny side up’ egg because they are less likely to burst and distribute their yolk through the sauce when you mix. When your eggs are all cooked, leave them on a plate and cover.
Peel your shallots, then chop them in half lengthways, and thinly slice them, so you cut into little half rings. Chop your garlic, and deseed and slice your red chillies. You can leave the seeds in if you wish, but this isn’t really meant to be a hot dish. Heat some oil in your wok, and fry the shallots, garlic and chillies at medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant and the shallots have softened and slightly coloured. Add in the bean and tamarind pastes, and stir fry for a minute or so before adding in the water and turning the heat up.
Bring the sauce up to a low boil, and add in the soya sauce and sugar. Next, make sure the corn starch is well mixed with warm water, then add it a bit at a time into the sauce. Keep stirring, and the sauce should thicken. If it’s to your desired thickness and you still have some of the corn starch mixture left over, feel free to not add it. Remove from heat.
If you didn’t fry your eggs as the first step, now is the time to do it! Taste the sauce, and adjust the seasoning to your preferences – it should be sweet and also tangy from the tamarind. When the sauce is to your liking, carefully add in the fried eggs to the sauce, making sure they’re all well coated.
Serve with rice, stir-fried/steamed vegetables and if you have it, a dollop of Sambal Belacan would be the perfect accompaniment!