On the Trail of the Phoenix – Telor Tempra
Those who know me well will know that I am an advocate of Peranakan home-cooking being approachable and simple, unlike what is typically heard and said about Straits Chinese cooking being laborious and tedious. While there are indeed dishes in the Baba Nyonya cuisine which are more painstaking to prepare, there is a repertoire of Peranakan dishes which require little time to cook and even less time to enjoy as they are so delicious, they are gobbled down in no time!
When I run out of ideas for what to prepare for a simple dinner, the ” tempra” sauce is my to-go-to style of Peranakan cooking which could be used with a wide variety of ingredients, all delicious and simple to prepare. No rempah to pound, no long hours of stewing, it usually manifest as “ikan tempra” or “ayam tempra” in our household but when I want something really fast and furiously done, “telor tempra” is most definitely the dish I would whip up as it requires just a bare few minutes from the chopping board to the dining table.
The ingredients are part of the common inventory from everyone’s household pantry. Onion, chilies, dark soya sauce, sugar, salt and calamansi limes are all that it takes to create something so moreish for one to crave for more!
I like my sunnyside ups with crispy sides on the whites while the yolks remain really runny. This is very old school kinda way of eating eggs for me, something which my mom would make so often that we often took it for granted with “eggs again?!” kinda remarks, but ironically, the kind of food that invokes the deepest sense of nostalgia as we age. It takes a bit of practice to get there but shouldn’t be difficult. Use the freshest eggs possible for the yolks to stay perky and intact during the pan-frying process. Trust me, keep the yolks runny for instant gratification!
Telor Tempra Recipe (serves 3-4)
3-4 large eggs, freshest possible
1/2 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 large red chili, seeded and sliced
5-6 calamansi limes, juice only
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp cooking oil
To a heated wok, add cooking oil and pan fry the eggs individually until the white crisps up along the edges. Dish and set aside.
To the same wok, add sliced onions and saute under medium heat until onion slices turn soft and translucent. Continue to slowly stir fry for another 2-3 min until they brown slightly.
Add sliced red chilies, dark soya sauce, calamansi juice, sugar, salt and stir fry a bit
Add hot water and bring everything to a boil before lowering flame to simmer for 1 min or so with lid covered.
Taste and adjust with more salt, sugar or calamansi juice if necessary.
Pour the cooked tempra sauce over the sunny side ups
Serve with steamed white rice and other dishes.