Sometimes things happen for a reason.
One day I noticed a cook book that had been on the shelf for months. I don’t even remember placing it there.
I grabbed it and flicked it open. And there it was, on page 64, Son in Law Eggs.
A few weeks earlier, it wouldn’t have meant a thing. But a few weeks earlier, we never heard of Gingerboy.
We had a couple of hours to spare before a comedy show so along with thousands of other people, we decided to have dinner in the city. I have always wanted to try Movida Next Door, Movida’s baby sibling. It was only 6:30pm so plenty of time. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones with the same idea as when we arrived, the queue was halfway up the laneway or so it seemed. We peered longingly into the restaurant and it saddened us to have to walk away. Next on the list was Longrain. Surely we would be able to get a couple of seats and eat at the bar. “No,” they said, “We won’t have anything until 8 o’clock.” In and out in 15 seconds like so many other disheartened hungry souls.
We wandered up Crossley Street and Gingerboy with its bright red neon sign beckoned to us. “We are full in the restaurant area,” the waiter said, “but we have one table left here by the bar.” He pointed to tiniest table behind him, less than a metre from the entrance. Yes we will take it! Not the spot you want sit in winter though; the door was constantly being opened. “Sorry we are full but may I suggest Longrain,” he repeated over and over. And so many times, shaking their heads, uttering “We already have,” people leave with their heads held low. I felt like putting up a No Vacancy sign. Less excruciating for us and less excruciating for the wait staff.
Gingerboy, the waiter told us, is based on the concept of Asian street food. The menu, however, did not reflect street food pricing. What the heck, the place was buzzing, we got the last table and our drinks arrived within minutes so I certainly wasn’t going anywhere. Besides my legs were getting weary from rushing up and down Melbourne’s eclectic alleyways.
There is only one way to eat street food – tapas style. As an added bonus, Gingerboy are more than happy to adapt serving sizes to suit – so 2 or 4 pieces instead of 3. Or you can stick to 3 because inevitably if you have a husband like mine, he will have 2 of them, thank you. While we were placing our order, I wondered how all the dishes were going to fit on that tiny round table.
The best thing of the night was about to happen.
Take a moment to picture this. Two very interesting looking, nicely browned, perfectly whole eggs on a plate. Picking one up and gently squeezing it between your thumb and forefinger. And then, slowly, placing it into your mouth, albeit a little tentatively because you don’t want to break it before it reaches your tongue. Then, BOOM, sensing an egg explosion in your mouth. But it’s not just the tastiness of the soft runny egg yolk; it’s the combination of salty, sweet and tingly tangy flavours that make your mouth sizzle with delight. Gingerboy Son in Law Eggs – the eggs that make you want to rise from your seat, stand upright and with your head held high declare, “Damn those eggs are GOOD!”
Perfect eggs were followed by almost perfect chicken ribs. Is it just me or are these new on menus? I’ve had legs, thighs, breasts and wings but never ribs. I mean how much meat can there be on them? But they were surprisingly meaty and Gingerboy made them extremely tasty. And, finally, nice but not particularly memorable, our last dish was Wagyu and Bamboo dumplings with a cashew soy. I am also happy to report that all the dishes and drinks fitted perfectly on the table.
At the end of the day, however, it’s those eggs that will take us back to Gingerboy.
And it’s the Son in Law Eggs we cook first on our gourmet-at-home weekend. We even splurge on organic eggs. One for my son, two for my husband and one for me. “What if they are so good, you want another one?” my husband inquires. So we make five. And they were so good, I did have two! We combined it with a main course of Karaage, Japanese fried chicken. Wise choice. Having previously experimented with various batters and coatings (beer, soda water, breadcrumbs to name a few), we discovered the perfect coating for fried chicken is in fact cornflour. Just plain cornflour. Thank you Karaage! I did feel a little bit sickly after 2 eggs and too much fried chicken.
So why the name Son in Law Eggs? There seem to be a couple of versions floating around.
Version one goes something like this: A mother-in-law makes it as a warning to her son-in-law (‘egg’ being the Thai slang equivalent of ‘balls’) –“‘treat my daughter badly and this is what your balls will look like!”
Version two goes something like this: While a wife was on holiday, her husband wanted to impress his mother-in-law. He reheated some left over hard-boiled eggs by deep frying them. Then he threw what he could find in a pan – water, tamarind, sugar and fish sauce. He forgot about it so that the mixture simmered until it was rich and thick. He poured the sauce over the fried eggs and served them to his mother-in-law.
Yes, it really is relative poultry and, yes, sometimes things do happen for a reason.
NB If anyone is interested in the name of the book, it is called The Great Aussie Asian Food by Tim Kerakes. It is surprisingly good despite the title.