Somewhere in the past few months I have begun consuming eggs. Understand this has been a lifelong avoidance of all things shelled that squirt from chicken other than ones done extremely well scrambled or an omelet secreted inside a colossal pile of bread. I lay blame on those soft boiled eggs my dad would feed me when I was a very young kid. I can still taste the crunch of salt grains combined with that slick, thick, slimy, runny yolk in every bite. Chalk up yet another win for post traumatic eating disorder as I flash back to being about three years old and my dad pretending each spoonful was an airplane with my mouth a hesitant hangar very much closed for business.
This aversion was solidified and legitimized years later while living in Germany when I cracked open an innocuous looking brown egg and out slipped a baby chicken. Little did I know one day in a galaxy far, far away I’d be holding my nose while downing its hard boiled cousins. But trust me, at the time it was enough for me to just shut it down as far as our feathered friends go.
That I now even consume this nastiness spawned in a bird’s rear end is a miracle indeed. A lunch of dưa cải chua xào trứng, or pickled cabbage and eggs, is something I would never have consumed in my previous life in America, yet this latest meal hit the spot. Times change and tastes evolve, and a $2 plate of this most interesting dish at Tuong Phuong at 72 Ly Tu Trong in District 1 strangely enough did nothing to bring back memories of that soft boiled foolishness. That is a small miracle indeed.
I’m sitting there eating this stuff and thinking where in the world have I tasted this before. A white sliced vegetable had a vaguely familiar sour crunch my friend and I just couldn’t place. Emailing a picture of the food’s name to a Vietnamese coworker got us no closer to an English translation as she simply responded with, “Yes, I know it. Very good for health.” OK, so we are eating a dish called Very Good For Health, but what is in it that she knows but won’t share?
As I laid the chopsticks to rest it dawned on me. Kim chi. This was a kim chi of some sort. This pickled cabbage tastes much like any garden variety kim chi minus the red paste and the sour crunch pairs so well with the creaminess of scrambled eggs and stir fried onions. Dipping each bite in soy sauce laced with fire hot birdseye chili peppers elevates the burn, and who doesn’t like a little heat with bird bits?
Believe it or not, this is one egg dish I will be recreating back home once my time in Vietnam is up.