Deep-fried eggs in a puddle of garlicky nuoc cham? Yes, please. The crispy whites and soft yolks are fabulous with a thatch of spicy herbs.
Slideshow:More Fried Egg Recipes
1/2 large fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced on a mandoline, plus fronds
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup minced scallion
1 tablespoon toasted and ground sesame seeds
1 Thai red chile, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon peanut oil, plus more for frying
4 large eggs
2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves
2 cups lightly packed mint leaves
1 small orange bell pepper, cut into julienne
1/2 English cucumber—halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into julienne
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Crispy Shallots, for serving (see Note)
How to Make It
Fill a medium bowl half with ice and half with cold water. Add the fennel bulb and let stand until crisp, about 20 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.
Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk the lime juice with the fish sauce, 1/4 cup of water and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the scallion, sesame seeds, chile and garlic.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of oil to 375°. One at a time, crack the eggs into a small heatproof bowl and very carefully slide into the hot oil. Fry until the whites are just firm but the yolks are runny, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a plate and gently blot with paper towels.
In a large bowl, toss the fennel with the cilantro, mint, bell pepper, cucumber, vinegar, fennel fronds and the 1 tablespoon of oil.
Spoon the nuoc cham into bowls. Top with the eggs and salad, garnish with the shallots and serve right away.
The nuoc cham can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.