Walk into any kopitiam in Malaysia for breakfast, and chances are you’ll see at least one table with a plate of soft-boiled eggs, kaya and butter with toast, and a ceramic cup of teh tarik/kopi o. It’s such a ubiquitous thing for Malaysians that some might not even think of it as special (when foreigners ask what we eat for breakfast, most would probably say “nasi lemak”).
It wasn’t until I brought Hubs to a kopitiam in Melaka and he berated me for not introducing it to him sooner that I realised that this combo is actually quite a unique one.
But how did Malaysians start eating soft boiled eggs with toast for breakfast? Well, you might be surprised to find out that it’s a remnant from Malaysia’s colonial days.
Dating back to the 1800s, Eggs and Soldiers is a classic British breakfast dish, featuring – you guessed it – boiled eggs (with shell intact but the top removed) and thin strips of toast. The shape of the bread makes it easy to dip them into the runny eggs. Somehow, this dish must have been brought over to Malaya during the British occupation, but locals tweaked it by adding condiments like soy sauce and pepper. Instead of cutting the bread into strips, locals paired them with butter and kaya (coconut jam), creating a wonderful marriage of sweet and salty flavours.
There’s an art to making soft boiled eggs, and kopitiams seem to have perfected them. While they’re easy enough to make at home, it’s difficult to get the exact same taste as the ones you find in restos.
Sometimes, when I’m not able to head to my local kopitiam, I make my own. The trick is to use medium-sized eggs and not cook them straight out of the fridge. Instead, run them under water until they’re close to room temperature, then bring a pot to boil. Place the eggs in a container (I use a stainless steel one for soups), pour the boiling water until it they’re completely submerged, then set the timer to six minutes. I find six minutes works best based on the eggs I usually buy, so when I crack them open the eggs are perfect : creamy yolk, runny whites.Then add soy sauce and pepper to your liking, and voila! Give me this over a fancy breakfast buffet any day.
What are some of your favourite breakfast dishes? Share them with me in the comments below!
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