Sometimes a cookbook title says it all. Justin Warner, Food Network Star winner and chef at Brooklyn’s notorious nosh spot Do or Dine, just released a dense collection of recipes by the very catchy name of The Laws of Cooking (And How to Break Them). If you’ve ever tried his inventive, harmonious and decidedly down-to-earth fare, you know you’ll need a copy of this instant hit. Try your hand at this seamless fusion of Caribbean food, deviled eggs and Scotch eggs, as only Warner can do.
When I first moved to Bed-Stuy, in Brooklyn, I was living off of Fulton Street and Nostrand Avenue. All around that neighborhood are Caribbean joints pushing out roti, doubles, and salt cod bakes. It took me some time to muster up the courage to go into A&A Bake and Doubles. I leaned over the counter and asked a smiling man (whom I now know as Noel, the owner) for “One, please.”
“Which one?” “Just one. One of something.” “We have two things. A bake and a doubles.” “How can something called doubles be one thing?” “Do you like fish?” “Yes.” “Salt cod bake, with pepper.”
He handed me a fried bread (oddly called a bake) stuffed with salt cod, onions, and spicy peppers. It was the most wondrous mid-morning snack I’ve ever had, and it serves as the inspiration for this dish.
This paprika-spiced, salt cod–crusted, hard-boiled egg works like a hot dog of the sea, its spicy, deviled filling a combination of relish and mustard.
Note: I buy salt cod from Latin and Caribbean markets. I look for fully dried cod, sold open-air. The stuff in bags is generally an inferior fish, and because it isn’t fully desiccated, it has a shorter shelf life.
- About 1/2 pound dried salt cod (see note)
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup rice flour, for dusting
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Sriracha sauce
For the eggs
Soak the cod in water in a bowl in the fridge for 24 hours, changing the water 4 times, every 6 hours or so.
Place only 6 of the eggs in a pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then remove from the heat and allow the eggs to cook for an additional 5 minutes in the hot water. Carefully drain the water off, and run cold water briefly over the eggs just to cool them down enough to handle.
Peel the eggs, then soak them in cold water to cool them off completely.
Drain the fish from the water and press dry. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the fish until finely chopped. Add the 2 remaining raw eggs and the paprika to the processor and process until thoroughly mixed and pasty.
Divide the paste into 6 equal portions, about ¼ cup each.
Put the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Roll the hard-boiled eggs in the rice flour and shake off any excess. Gently wrap each egg in the fish mixture until completely covered, transfer to a plate, and put them in the freezer to chill for 5 to 10 minutes.
The coated eggs can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 24 hours. Just freeze for 10 minutes before frying.
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place the Dutch oven with the clip-on candy thermometer over medium heat, fill halfway with oil, and bring the oil to 375°F.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the filling.
Using a slotted spoon or spider, carefully lower the coated eggs into the oil, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the temperature consistent. Fry the eggs until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the fried eggs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolk and add it to the filling mixture. Place the yolk-less eggs on a sheet pan in the oven to keep warm.
Mash up the yolks and filling mix with a fork until smooth. Remove the warm eggs from the oven and spoon the filling into the cavity of each egg. Garnish each egg with one dot of sriracha sauce.