Kwek Kwek

Deep-Fried Battered Eggs (Kwek-Kwek)

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Having eggs is as universal as drinking coffee or tea. They can be taken anytime of the day and have about the same line-up of choices from the menu as any hot beverage. North Americans are very particular about how they want their eggs cooked. It’s a bit peculiar and I don’t exactly know why. Eggs growing up were fried eggs; submerged in about a cup of oil to attain that crisp, brown outer colour while the yoke is still a bit runny. It’s eggs over medium fried on extremely high heat; and extremely greasy.

I’ve worked with eggs for a long time and once in a while I still work with them in the kitchen. I don’t miss doing eggs, but when this challege came up. experiences from the not so distant past emerged. Eggs were vital to my survival in the suburbs back when I was probably unconsciously or unwillingly pushed and forced out of the house by being subjected to quiet verbal abuse. Money became so tight that a ‘Balut Penoy’ was literally a golden egg. It sustained me in an evening downpour, floods, and typhoons before I was able to finally reach my then apartment for some real meal of rice. Every peso earned was saved and or spent to the last dime.

I vividly remember getting off the bus on the very busy intersection of the Bicutan interchange and encountering more ‘Egg’ delicacies. Rain was heavily pouring down and the carts or ‘caritons’ were all huddled up outside the gate of the village waiting for regular patrons heading home. Amongst those of the many street vendors shouting were the deep-fried eggs ‘station,’ as I recall. There were also peanuts, fishballs & kikiam, barbeque, siopao & siomai, noodles and pop in bottles (to be transferred in plastic with a straw) and even rice and ‘ulam’ wrapped in plastic bags.

I enjoyed picking on them despite the unsanitary and unhygienic preparation, but when you become desperate, anything on the street is as valuable as life itself. They command the taste of the masses and they can sustain the poor man’s soul throughout the day. For six months, I became one of those many hungry souls; living on a day-to-day basis just to prove that I can make it on my own. It was an emotional experience that never healed until now.

Almost all my friends back then were very well-supported by families after finishing university. Their families were there to support their careers and personal lives as clearly shown during my visits to their houses; despite age and financial background. And, surprisingly, I was driven away while others were trying to keep their families as intact as long as possible. Fun! I’ve never forgotten, and I pushed myself to be as far away as possible after that.

Kwek Kwek

Anyway, this is my version of that deep-fried egg delicacy. I asked my Filipino friends from work what they were called, and was mistakenly and initially told the ‘Green’ version of the name of the dish until one finally blurted out that very familiar name: ‘Kwek-kwek.’ Sounds really romantic.

Red, Salted eggs/Hardboiled eggs/Balut Penoy
Canola Oil or Peanut Oil

Batter mix:
Sprite or Carbonated Water
Curry or Turmeric

Cane Vinegar
White Onion
Green Onion or Scallions
Thai Chilis

Combine the batter mix and whisk gently.

Peel the eggs, wipe dry and lightly coat with flour. Soak them into the batter mixture and deep-fry until golden brown.

nilagang itlogKwek kwek

Drip dry on paper towel and serve with a vinegar condiment.

I combined two hardboiled eggs with two other salted eggs; just perfect for a late night snack.

Kwek Kwek

Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.

Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.

“February being the month of Valentine’s and everything red makes me think of that one red ingredient, that can sometimes be a whole dish, that I absolutely love and miss eating. PULANG ITLOG (or itlog na maalat)”Trish

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When I was growing up, my parents and I used to eat out and try different restaurants after celebrating the Sunday Mass. Moreover, during the course of the summer break, I had the opportunity to see some places which, when looking back, I had never realized how lucky I was as a teen to be able to travel. My family and I went to Europe and some parts of the United States, and what I saw along that path of my life inspired me to become a 'Chef.' The 'whites' they wore for me, during those growing-up and finding 'myself' years, portrayed a sort of fascinating and powerful figure in an extremely sophisticated, higly inviting and invigorating work place; and still maintain an unblemished and clean uniform after a very busy service. That picture of a 'Chef' stuck to my head for so many years.

True enough, with meager resources left to spend for the youngest, that dream never happened. Life went on. I went to university and studied an insignificant course, Business Management, and after graduating, I ended up working as a Credit and Financial Analyst in the banking industry in Manila; slugging it out in the corporate arena in Makati. It was the first taste of being called a 'yuppie' and was almost always looking forward to an after-office eating and drinking extravaganza in the expanding and growing Makati Business District; and, of course, the weekend.

Anyway, forging ahead to my life today, that dream as 'Chef' stayed in the back of my mind all the time that when I left the Philippines for Toronto in 2003; and after finally settling down on my own in 2005, I had started studying Professional Culinary Arts Courses in the City College to get that almost long-forgotten 'dream' going again. It was a Continuing Education Course, and more or less, students who have also shifted careers or who were trying to find work (like myself) as a newly landed found ourselves working with pots, knives and fire which I believe and I felt, everyone in class have never, ever touched during their past, professional lives.

Since then, I have been working in and out of different kitchens; flipping eggs and hamburgers, grilling steaks, shoving bread and chicken in a 500'C oven, and almost anything that can be either deep-fried or toasted just to serve hungry, sometimes pesky, customers. I became a 'grease' cook; a short-order cook with no definite place of employment, and definitely not a 'Chef.'

My articles are based on the after-thoughts of my past and present day experiences in this fast-paced, starkling, and sometimes disheveling kitchen environment. I never imagined that a kitchen 'worklife' turned that way as against the 'Ideal' environment I had thought about for years. No regrets. During this journey, I've discovered food which I've never thought I'd be able to taste. I learned to appreciate wine and travel more; now that I have understood the culture of food to society. That was non-existent when I was growing up.

This journey has not ended. I'm still discovering and still learning. It's a tough industry to be in and for what's next or for where I'll finally end up in remain a sordid mystery.

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