Friday, April 6, 2012

Fuse It Or Lose It: Kimchi Deviled Eggs

Kimchi Deviled Eggs.
See the recipe at the end of this post.
When we put this month's topic up for a Twitter vote by the Let's Lunch crowd, our informal assortment of bloggers who get together for a virtual meal, I shot my hand up in the air and practically shouted: Eggs!

Why wouldn't I? My love for them is boundless. I've often extolled the beauty of eggs as the perfect single-serving food: They're portion-controlled, long-lasting in the fridge, and outright delicious, especially if you've got any hens laying around. (There's a sly little joke in there for the grammatically obsessed.)

Which we do here on the Maine homestead. In fact, when the other two-thirds of the house told me a few weeks ago they had decided to go -- brace yourself -- vegan, the first thing I thought was, "What about the chickens? Don't give up the chickens. Let me have the chickens." I'm writing more about this soon, but suffice it to say, they let me have a few of the chickens and gave away the rest, so I'm able to have my supply.

Each one of the chicks lays an egg a day at her peak, and they're peaking now, so you can see that even for an egg-loving guy like me, that's a lot of eggs: 21 a week. We give them away here and there, though we don't have enough to trade to our friend Dave Plante anymore -- the man's family vacuums them up, and in return he was bringing us exquisite goat milk. But since I promised that I'd keep eating them, that's what I've been doing.

In a couple of weeks, my column in the Washington Post Food section will be devoted to my love of eggs for single-serving purposes, and will include recipes for two dinnertime favorites: Egg in Puttanesca With Kale and Mushrooms, and Spaghetti With Fried Egg and Sardines, the latter brightened with preserved lemon, walnuts and spinach. But today, for Let's Lunch, I thought I'd offer something a little more communal -- and appropriate for a springtime lunch.

The key to tender whites and creamy yolks?
Just-simmering water and 9 minutes.
Note the absence of a greenish ring,
the surest sign of overcooked eggs.
I came up with these when I was looking for a snack to take to a panel discussion at the Smithsonian Craft Show last year, on Food as Craft. I'd be there with such food luminaries as Joan Nathan, Fabio Trabocchi, and Najmieh Batmanglij, and moderated by my friend Sally Swift. The other three authors would also be bringing food, and they're amazing cooks to a one, so I needed something flashy but relatively easy to put together.

Deviled eggs, of course, right? But not just any deviled egg. I needed something that would show how the right few ingredients together can make magic. I don't remember exactly how I stumbled onto the idea of kimchi, but it's probably the most organic way possible: I opened my fridge and there it was, staring at me.

I do love the combination -- I put it on a pizza (with a little ham) in "Serve Yourself," and I love nothing better than a kimchi fried rice with a fried egg on top. Honestly, it was one of the easiest and most successful recipes I've ever developed. I hard-cooked the eggs, put the yolks in a food processor, added kimchi and cream cheese and a little dash of Sriracha, and boom! Perfect. Well, not exactly perfect. They needed a little texture and maybe even a little more heat, so when I served them at the event, I chopped up more kimchi to sprinkle on top of each egg, and squirted a little dot of Sriracha on top.

I don't even need to tell you what happened when I took them to the event, do I? Nah. I didn't think so.

Kimchi Deviled Eggs

You've probably read that it's best not to use the freshest eggs for hard-cooking, because they're harder to peel, but if you dissolve baking soda in a bowl of water before you add ice, and use this to cool the eggs, the shells practically slip off. (Especially if you prick the rounded shell before you cook the eggs, creating an air pocket.)

Makes 1 dozen

6 eggs
3/4 cup kimchi, preferably spicy
1/4 cup cream cheese
Sriracha, to taste

Prick each egg just barely through the shell on the rounded end, using an egg pricker or a thumbtack. 

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to the boil. Reduce heat so that the water is at a simmer. Use a slotted spoon to carefully lower each egg into the water, and to stir them frequently for the first minute or so of cooking. (This helps set the yolks in the center.)

Cook them for 9 minutes, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water into which you have dissolved 2 tablespoons of baking soda. As soon as you can handle the eggs, reach into the water and crack them all over, keeping them in the water. Remove them one at a time and remove a large piece of the shell at the rounded end, where an air pocket should be, and return them to the water. (This helps water get between the egg and the shell for easier peeling.) Remove one egg at a time, slip off the rest of the shell, and return it to the water as you continue peeling.

Transfer the peeled eggs to a countertop, and slice each one neatly in half. Pop out each yolk half with your fingers into the bowl of a food processor or blender.

Add 1/2 cup of the kimchi and all the cream cheese to the food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Taste, and add a little at a time if you want it to be spicier.

Use a teaspoon to carefully fill each egg white half with the kimchi mixture, mounding it on top. Finely chop the remaining 1/4 cup kimchi and sprinkle it on top of the eggs. If desired, squirt a few drops of Sriracha on each egg.

Refrigerate the stuffed eggs for at least 1 hour, covered, so the cream cheese firms up. They can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

This post is part of Let's Lunch, a virtual lunchdate with food bloggers around the globe. Want to join us in the kitchen? Comment on this post or tweet using the hashtag #LetsLunch. 

Here are more posts on the theme from the Let's Lunch crew:


  1. Yes! The missing link between my Southern and Asian food universes is now bridged, and the bridge is lined with bowls of kimchi. Cannot wait to make this. Deviled eggs was my other #LetsLunch choice, but I gave it up for an Asian egg option. You went and thought outside the (egg)box!

    1. Next up, Nancie: Pimento kimcheese! (Hmm, I was joking as I wrote it, but actually...)

  2. Kimchi deviled eggs sound absolutely outrageously good. In the headnote, you reference baking powder and in the text, you call for baking soda. I assume you mean baking soda & what a great tip. Will try.

  3. Yes, baking soda! Thanks for the catch! Will fix...

  4. Looks great! Will try this recipe soon. I'm allergic to sriracha so will try some kochujang (spicy Korean miso) instead. Thanks for the idea. Arigato.

    1. Hi, Yukari -- Great to hear from you! Hope all's well. Kochujang sounds like a great idea -- I'll have to find some myself. I haven't played around with it all that much, but I remember loving it.

  5. Two of my great loves in one bite, bliss! I'm going to try this as written but also again with Kewpie Mayo (which I often combine with Sriracha for an extra kick)...

    1. I hope you like it, Vivian. One word of caution: The filling will probably be a bit runny with mayo instead of cream cheese, so before you put the kimchi in the blender, squeeze as much extra liquid out of it as you can. Let me know how it goes!

  6. I just found your blog by way of Dorie Greenspan's. I've enjoyed your writing very much and have just ordered your cooking for one book.

    I've gone back and read your entries since before you started the weight loss and fitness regime. I especially found these posts interesting, informative, and inspirational. Having had a heart attack and triple bypass surgery a little over a year ago, this topic was particularly relevant. Dare I ask? Why not. Could you please continue the updates on your progress?

    1. ^^ I meant to include a closing and signature.


  7. Hi, Jeff -- Thanks for the note! I got so distracted by moving to Maine and taking on this new project that I let that thread of posts drop, I'm afraid. I'm so glad you found them inspirational! I'll find a way to work back in that direction... Best, Joe

  8. Ohhh. This looks spicy and I like it. :)

    3/4 cup kimchi, preferably spicy <-- Is there a non-spicy kind of kimchi?? :)

  9. Thanks, Charissa! Unfortunately, there are some milder kimchis out there in supermarkets, sad to say... We get spoiled in big urban centers with great markets (including great Asian markets)!

  10. I was also toying with the idea of a Korean-ish deviled egg for Let's Lunch, but thinking of putting a little gochujang in with the yolks. Straight up kimchi sounds even better! Thanks for the stirring and baking soda tips. I will definitely try those next time. It's such a bummer to have a nice boiled egg and have chunks crumble off when trying to unpeel it!

    1. I know -- that's the worst! Thanks, HM...

  11. I made these as a dinner appetizer for the firehouse & my coworkers went bizzaro crazy over them! Thanks Joe!

  12. Excellent idea, I;ve been making kimchi for a bout a year now and I love deviled eggs. Not sure why this never occured to me, but thanks for sharing.