Is the simple perfection of fried eggs and white rice that I experienced while traveling to Eze Ezhiza, Egypt, is it really the state of the art that is featured by some British magazine and website? I’m willing to bet a pound it didn’t happen. That’s not to say that there aren’t aspects of good cooking that can be improved, but I certainly haven’t found anything that I would classify as “the perfect dish.” However, I found an excellent (and inexpensive) way to replicate the fried egg/white rice effect at home and thought I’d share the results with you.
Let me start by saying that when I was in Egypt, I ate a lot of traditional food. I mainly dined on kebabs (although of course I also tried a lot of Chinese and Middle Eastern food) and I always had the opportunity to try new things. In the weeks leading up to my trip, I dined at several British restaurants frequented by British expats. Some of them were more expensive than others, but all were excellent value for money. I particularly liked a very affordable bistro near the ancient city of Alexandria.
The main attraction for me was the Oriental-style Chinese restaurant called Oriental Dream, located in the center of Brighton Pier. The menu was impressive, but I was more interested in the quality of the food than the taste. My waitress, a woman named Lucy from Coventry, was polite, quick, and helpful. We ordered a variety of dishes – dim sum, beef stew, lamb chop, baked potatoes and oysters – and she was extremely helpful throughout. The staff also seemed to be relatively cool and popular with the locals, judging by the lively conversations that flowed around us.
After a quiet meal, I decided it was time to head back to my hotel room to read the paper and check the internet, so off I went. I was surprised to find that my Oriental Dream rice and egg recipe was gone. Apparently, Coventry police said they closed the business on Sunday night because of a ‘critical flaw’. The newspaper said no charges would be made, but no details were released. The cucumber and pineapple from the apple essay were still standing, however.
Shortly after returning to Apple’s newsroom for more detailed information, I came across a story about a mysterious person who called a house in Essex and left a threatening message. The caller told the owner that he or she was armed and dangerous. A manhunt began, with police saying they were now looking for this man, who they labeled “A”. The story added that there were no reports of any arrests made.
When I visited the newsroom, I was surprised to see that there had been no mention of the police or A in the previous six weeks. It soon became clear that the real story wasn’t about A or his scary weapon, but about someone named Coventry, Christopher Biden, who lives in a small apartment in Twickenham. On Tuesday morning, as I was finishing my tea, I heard a strange voice saying, “This is Coventry police station. I just found your article in the paper and now I’m going to send you some money.” Then the voice took on a different tone and the man said, “I’m here to help you. Please contact the police station with any information you might have about your boyfriend, Christopher Biden.”
That was it, the real story behind the elusive A. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think how strange it must be for a man in a small apartment in Twickenham who was being wanted by the police. But maybe he wasn’t after the police. The Mysterious Man was nominated for a Featured Emmy Comedy Series and was knighted. His award was presented by David Letterman, which must have helped Christopher feel more secure.
The most fascinating part of this whole affair was when I found out that the real story behind the name “Coventry” was actually a play on words. The play was titled Coventry. In fact, the play was based on an actual incident in Coventry, in which a man named Richard Coventry was playing a very popular game on a computer when he lost his arm in the process. The play was a great success and ended up winning many prestigious Emmy Awards, including the Outstanding Comedy Series Award.
The big advantage of egg rice is that it’s barely cooking. If you can fry an egg, you can make egg rice.
Every two weeks, Christina Dang buys a carton of 18 eggs at Costco near her home in San Diego. Most of these eggs go into a snack she makes for herself when she gets home from work: rice and eggs. She fries a single egg with the sunny side up and places it on a small plate with leftover jasmine rice. Then, over the yolk, she pours some Maggi Sauce, a dark and flavorful wheat protein potion. For Dang, who is a pharmacist, there is a ritual for eating this simple but potent dish that she has maintained since she was young. She breaks the yolk and mixes the Maggi into it, creating a makeshift sauce that wraps the rice in a golden egg. She sticks her fork straight into the food so she has an even distribution of dyed Maggi yolks, egg whites with crispy tips, and steamed white rice, fluffy as a pile of freshly gathered leaves, in her teeth. “I eat this at least once a day,” she told me.
The big advantage of egg rice is that it’s barely cooking. If you can fry an egg, you can make egg rice. And it’s filling, but not filling, perfect for that awkward break between after work and before dinner, when you’re so hungry you can’t imagine how you’re going to make it for dinner, let alone cook it.
Growing up, Dang never made much of this snack. It was just something her mother prepared for her and her little sister on busy mornings. But when she left her home in Orange County, California, to attend graduate school in Baltimore, she began to miss it. “It’s one of the first things I learned to do on my own,” she says. Eggs and rice were already staples for her, so all she had to do was locate the Maggi, that narrow-necked dream of a bottle with an iconic red cap, which she found in a small shop in town. “The store didn’t even have a name – it just said ‘Asian Market’,” says Dang. Finding this bottle was a great comfort to her, a taste of home and her mother’s Vietnamese cuisine.
It’s perfect for that weird in-between pause after work and before dinner.
Many cultures have some variation from egg rice. It’s one of those dishes you don’t really talk about because it’s so basic: fried eggs, white rice, and something to spice up. In South Korea, it’s called gyeran bap, which translates to “egg rice,” with soy sauce, sesame oil, and often a hint of butter. In Japan, it’s tamago kake gohan (“egg with rice”), but in this version, the egg is cracked raw in a bowl of warm, fresh white rice, then fluffed with chopsticks in a creamy, comforting wonder. An Indonesian variation, nasi tellur ceplok (“fried egg served with rice”), uses kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce thick with molasses. Puerto Rican caballo rice (“horse rice”) usually has canned meat. Egg rice is like an order for coffee; everyone does it a little differently. Some say they top theirs with furikake, chives or crispy chili. Novelist Alexander Chee told me that his father made egg rice for him with the fried egg on the bottom and the fresh rice, straight from the rice cooker, on top. “It was the only thing he knew how to cook,” Chee said. That and fried vienna sausages.
Patrick Faloon, a scientist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, cooks two eggs with ease and eats them with Kokuho Rose sushi rice sprinkled with everything else’s bagel seasoning. “As a single guy, I would always have leftover rice and cooking some eggs was quick for a weekday meal,” he said. The addition of the seasoning came naturally: “I thought it had sesame so it should work, but the dehydrated onion and salt definitely gave it more flavor than I expected. Also, adding it at the last minute gave it some texture. It was about five years ago when Faloon discovered the combination, building slowly over time depending on what he had in his pantry and refrigerator. These days, he hoards kimchi and roasted vegetables.
My mother used to fry the eggs in vegetable oil, breaking the yolk and turning the egg over to cook everything. Shimmering white on dull yellow, the fried eggs in our house always went with the rice. But egg rice is one of those dishes that grows with you. As I got older and started making it for myself, I found that frying the eggs with a little butter meant the butter had a chance to brown, adding that signature nut, and the yolks were rich and runny, which I now prefer. . Later, I found that a drop of soy sauce added directly to the skillet gave the sauce a chance to bubble and caramelize, creating a puddle of salt for the eggs to cook, the whites swelling and staining the edges. You can fry eggs in almost anything, like sesame oil, ghee and even cream, but butter and soy sauce are a divine combination. A final shower of gin – roasted seaweed – increases the umami with every bite. A single pack of five grams is enough.
When Dang was pregnant, her doctor told her she should stop eating runny egg yolks. This was harder for her than giving up caffeine or even carrying the baby, who is now 5 months old. “I thought about it every day,” she says. “It was the first thing I did for myself when I got back from the hospital. I was like, ‘I need a dripping yolk, and I do now. ”