RECIPE | Bong Cai Trang Nuong
A dish wrapped up in fond memories for a kid from the Midwest.
December 19, 2018 ● 3 min read
After cooking his way through Tucson, AZ, chef Ben Allen returned to his hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, to run the contemporary American kitchen at W.A. Frost. Now, with his pop-up El Norte Kitchen, he's back to cooking the food he loves best while introducing Sonoran flavors to the Midwest.
There's a large Asian population in Saint Paul, [but] we don't have a Chinatown like many other American cities. I grew up in a district called Little Mekong; my neighbors were Vietnamese and one of the kids was the same age as my brother, so we were always playing together in the alley. I was always interested in food, so whenever they had family cook-outs, we'd run over and eat whatever they were making: egg rolls, fried rice, pho, imperial rolls with nuoc cham.
Being half-Jamaican and half-American and growing up in an Asian neighborhood, I like to experiment with all kinds of food. Part of who I am as a chef is about combining my history and all that I've learned and putting that on a plate. I love cooking traditional Vietnamese food and incorporating Vietnamese flavors into my own dishes. Bong cai trang nuong is a very composed dish with the cauliflower, cured egg yolk, egg poached in coconut broth, and shallot jam. At W.A. Frost, I was working on a dish with cured egg yolks and bacon—it was a play on bacon and eggs. It was the first time I'd played around with cured egg yolks and I used an herb salt with typical fine French herbs, like parsley and tarragon. But I always have Sichuan peppercorns on hand, so I was excited to use them like this.
Make like Chef Allen and give the bong cai trang nuong from Chef Thai Dang of Chicago’s HaiSous a try. For more from our partners at The American Egg Board, check out their full treasure trove of chef-created recipes here!
BONG CAI TRANG NUONG
Yield: 4 servings
8 cured egg yolks (make 3-days ahead, recipe follows)
1 head cauliflower
Canola oil, as needed
Shallot jam (recipe follows)
Whipped coconut broth (recipe follows)
4 large eggs
1. Prepare cured egg yolks three days in advance. (instructions below)
2. Break down the head of cauliflower into medium and small florets. Blanch the florets in salted water until tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Shock in ice bath, drain, pat dry.
4. Toss cauliflower lightly with canola oil and grill until slightly charred. Set aside.
5. Rinse and pat dry scallions.
6. Lightly brush with canola oil, grill scallions until slightly tender but not limp. Set aside.
7. Meanwhile, prepare shallot jam and whipped coconut broth. Set both aside.
8. Next, poach eggs by bringing three-inches of water in a medium saucepan to a boil, lower to a simmer.
9. Carefully add cracked eggs one-at-a-time into simmering water.
10. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, remove carefully with a slotted spoon, allowing excess water to drain off. Place carefully on a plate and set aside.
11. While eggs are poaching, combine cauliflower, scallions and shallot jam. Divide mixture into four bowls, arranging into a nest in each.
12. Whip coconut broth into a fluffy, creamy sauce, using an aerator, according to directions.
13. Carefully place one poached egg into each cauliflower nest, dispense coconut broth equally over each egg.
14. Garnish with grated, cured egg yolk. Serve immediately.
Chef Dang recommends additional garnishes of chopped fried garlic or fried shallots for added crunch.
Cured Egg Yolks
8 egg yolks
2 cups kosher salt
½ tsp. ground chili
½ tsp. ground Sichuan peppercorn
1. Mix salt, chili, and Sichuan peppercorn. Set aside.
2. Using a 9x13 cake pan, cover bottom with ½ of salt mixture. Carefully place each egg yolk on top of salt bed. Yolks should not touch. Use remaining salt mixture to make sure all yolks are covered with salt.
3. Seal container tightly and refrigerate for 3 days. After 3 days, take yolks out, wipe each yolk gently with a wet towel, removing salt on yolks.
4. Set oven at 300°F, place the yolks on a wire rack that fits into cookie sheet. Bake until completely dry (45 min. to an hour). Set aside.
4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. Sambal (chili paste)
1. Sweat shallots in a pan, then add sugar and Sambal chili paste. Cook until all ingredients are incorporated and bind tightly together. Set aside.
Whipped Coconut Broth
3.5 oz. water
3.5 oz. shallot, rough chop
2 oz. garlic, rough chop
2 Thai chilies, stem discarded
1 Makrut lime leaf
2 whole stalks lemongrass, rough chop
2 oz. palm sugar
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
1. Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt, strain and set aside.